Monday, July 21, 2008

Gotta Keep on Tryin' by Virginia DeBerry, Donna Grant

Publisher: Touchstone, January 2008
Reviewed by Naleighna Kai
, author of Every Woman Needs a Wife
Rating : 4

Patricia Reid and Gayle Saunders, who made their appearance on the literary stage in Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, return in a sequel that further tests the bonds of friendship, marriage and their careers. In Gotta Keep on Tryin’, Patricia and Gayle have launched a new business venture, and through much trial and terror, the women’s talents propel this seeming pipe dream into something that gains the attention of a major conglomerate. At a time when success is imminent, Vanessa, Gayle’s teenage daughter has become unmanageable, willful and is plagued by self-doubt and a condition that is affecting more teenagers today--bulimia.

Pat has her own troubles when Tiffani Alexander walks through their door claiming Pat’s husband as her father, and it sets the stage for Marcus to suddenly focus on the daughter he’s always wanted, but Pat, whose career has come first, was unwilling to give. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, Vanessa moves in with an abusive boyfriend and holds fast to the relationship rather than admitting defeat and returning to safety. All this is followed by a lucrative offer from a conglomerate that pits the women’s goals and dreams against each other.

Though the women’s friendship survived an overwhelming amount of obstacles in the first novel, the developments, and their unwillingness to confide in each other or ask for help, might be their undoing in Gotta Keep on Tryin’.

This novel, a realistic look at the challenges that Black women face to balance family, career and love, was well written, an enjoyable read and well worth the eleven year wait for the sequel.

Payback With Ya Life by Wahida Clark

Grand Central Publishing: May 2008
Reviewer: Toni Mac
Rating: 3

Reeling from the suicide of her best friend, Shan is at a crossroads. She wants to move clear across the country and start over while her brother, her only family left, doesn’t want her to leave. A blast from the past convinces her to stay, but with her decision comes consequences. Will she pay the ultimate price and payback with her life?

No doubt about it, Wahida Clark is wicked with her pen game. But I can’t help but be a little disappointed with this novel. A fan of Clark ’s customary style, something just seemed to be missing here – the power that vaulted her to the top. “Payback With Ya Life” has its moments but not enough. Despite not living up to my expectations, I look forward to her next release.