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God Don't Like Ugly Paperback – October 1, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Annette Goode, born in the racist South of the 1950s, is the heroine of Monroe's strong second novel (after The Upper Room), a coming-of-age journey depicted with wit, poignancy and bite. Up until 1963, when 13-year-old, overweight Annette Goode meets beautiful Rhoda Nelson, only daughter of the Richland, Ohio, town undertaker, Annette's life has been a nightmare. After Annette's father left her mother (Muh'Dear) for a white woman, Muh'Dear has scraped by as a domestic, stealing leftover food from her employers' kitchens; Annette overeats to compensate for her father's abandonment. Annette is only seven when she asks their boarder, Mr. Boatwright, to be her daddy. Soon after, he begins raping her. Annette, who considers herself fat and ugly, endures silently, thinking no one will believe her. She suffers the attacks for years until Rhoda befriends her and decides the man must be stopped. Monroe's characters are well drawn, full-bodied and not all bad. Monroe paints sympathetic portraits of Judge Lawson, the honorable white man Muh'Dear works for; Mr. Nelson, the undertaker; Scary Mary, who runs a brothel but has a good heart; and Pee Wee, Annette's young gay friend. However, it is the convincingly depicted friendship between Annette and Rhoda that drives the narrative and gives Annette the courage to end her abuse. In using a young girl's innocent voice to narrate, Monroe recounts a tale of extreme hardship with a hopeful, uplifting tone. Some readers will find the characters more enjoyable than the plot, which occasionally lapses into predictable melodrama, but readers of contemporary African-American literature will discover a highly satisfying page turnerDand one that will stand out on bookstore shelves with its bold, purple-hued cover. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Mary Monroe, the daughter of sharecroppers, is the author of the award-winning and New York Times bestselling God series that includes God Don't Like Ugly and God Don't Make No Mistakes, among other novels. Winner of the AAMBC Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, Mary Monroe currently lives in Oakland, California, and loves to hear from her readers via e-mail at AuthorAuthor5409@aol.com. Visit Mary's website at MaryMonroe.org.
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The storyline of this book, though very depressing, was still one that kept me glued to my Kindle. Annette's, the main character's, narration was both riveting and heartbreaking. Her childhood told through her eyes had such a low-key voice, yet this is what made the story so horrific.
In need of financial aid, Annette's mother took in a boarder, Mr. Boatwright, a man she considered to be an upright Christian, which is how he presented himself to her and the world. This is why, when he raped Annette, she didn't feel that anyone would believe her if she were to tell. Her thought processes about the abuse are so realistic as to be painful. Her almost complacent acceptance is wrenching.
When Rhoda, Annette's new best friend, entered the tale, I felt like cheering. I thought that she would be the one to 'save' Annette. After that, I was amazed, though not completely incorrect, at the direction the book took.
I was concerned while reading this about the fact that there was a sequel. So many books that are part of a series, or even have just one sequel, are unsatisfying in themselves. That was not the case here. This book was a terrific stand-alone, with a full, satisfying ending.
Character Development: 5 Stars
Annette was a simplistic character, which befitted the storyline. She wasn't particularly unique, which made her tale that much more heartbreaking. You could imagine just about any child going through what she did.
Rhoda was a roller coaster ride. All I will say is that she was intriguing. After finishing the book, I thought back on her character and nodded my head. It all fit. She was definitely my favorite character.
Mr. Boatwright was a sad excuse for a human being. I loved the way the author actually introduced some "empathetic evidence", yet did not expect the reader to buy it.
Writing Style: 4 3/4 Stars
The writing style was a little simplistic, even for being told from Annette's viewpoint. The sentence structuring could have been a little more complex; instead, it was more of a YA style. However, for all that, the style still made for an easy read. Also, in an odd way, this simplistic style made the story evoke stronger emotions.
Ms. Monroe handled the "graphic" scenes in a respectful and tactful manner without any detriment to the horror of it.
Rating: R for Pedophilia and Rape