Wednesday, August 30, 2006

[Book Review] GOD DON'T LIKE UGLY by Mary Monroe

Fiction/ Genre: African-American

Barbara Wallace reviews GOD DON’T LIKE UGLY by Mary Monroe (Dafina Books, 2000):

Chubby and unattractive Annette Goode and her mother, Muh' Dear, just barely manage to survive when they are abandoned by Annette’s father. Of course, things weren’t that much better even before he ran off with a white woman. They live a subsistence existence in rural Florida under Jim Crow and depend on cast-off clothes and food smuggled out of the houses of the white families that Annette’s mother cleans for. A shady character, Scary Mary, befriends Muh' Dear and encourages her to move "up North" where things are bound to be easier. They follow Mary to the small city of Richland, Ohio. Muh' Dear manages a little better in Richland, where she takes up with one of her customers, Judge Lawson, who provides them with a house. Family income is supplemented further by the arrival of old Brother Boatwright who pays a little rent for the extra bedroom and takes on the responsibility of "watching" Annette while her mother works.

God Don't Like Ugly is filled with fascinating and well-drawn characters held together by a web of love and secrets. The action really starts when the character Rhoda Nelson is introduced. Rhoda is a beautiful, worldly black "princess" who lives in the neighborhood and transforms Annette's life by befriending her. Rhoda has all the courage and confidence that Annette lacks, but some of the life lessons that Annette learns from her friend she may have wished to skip.

Monroe returns to these characters in a sequel called God Still Don't Like Ugly

Barbara Wallace, Randolph Branch Library

Meet the Author! On Wednesday, September 6 at 6:30 p.m., Mary Monroe will be at the Benjamin K. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111, 2nd Floor-Humanities Reading Area). Call (901) 415-2700 for more information.

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