SITTIN' IN THE FRONT PEW
Brown's sophomore effort explores the upheavals that a father's death triggers for his grown daughters. Narrator Glynda has just passed the bar exam in L.A. when she receives the dreaded late-night phone call. Drawing on the strength of her plucky best friend, Rico, she flies to Baltimore, where the family is gathering to bury Edward Zachary Naylor. Tears fall and personalities clash as Glynda and her siblings—Renee, Collette and Dawn—bicker relentlessly over funeral arrangements. The battle lines are drawn, with Renee and Collette on one side and Dawn and Glynda on the other. All are pretty annoying, but the penny-pinching, malicious Collette is just too wrong to be believed. They find plenty to fight about: should their father's fiancée, Estelle, be involved in the planning? Who is the mysterious Nina, and why is she in the will? Did Viagra kill Daddy? Who gets to ride in the limo? One has to wonder about an author who names a character Uncle Thomas and has him utter lines like "I know dey's da fancy ones, ain't dey?" but he turns out to be the voice of reason. Thomas and the other secondary characters are affable enough, but it is hard to feel for the petty, selfish sisters. Their story is little more than an extended catfight, but Brown (The Shirt off His Back) gets credit for slipping in some laughs and tenderness along the way. 7-city author tour. (Apr. 16)
Forecast:Count on this campy offering to follow Brown's debut onto the Blackboard and Essence bestseller lists.