cover image Like Sisters on the Homefront

Like Sisters on the Homefront

Rita Williams-Garcia. Dutton Books, $15.99 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-525-67465-8

As this unusually perceptive, streetwise novel opens, Gayle, 14, already a mother to seven-month-old Jose, is once again pregnant. Brooking no opposition, Mama marches Gayle to a clinic for an abortion, then sends her and Jose to Columbus, Ga., to live with Mama's semi-estranged brother, minister Luther Gates, and his family. Much to Gayle's surprise, the Gateses live in an antebellum mansion on a sizeable estate. And to her dismay, Luther's wife, ``Miss Auntie,'' assigns her to help care for Great, her bedridden great-grandmother, along with a host of other chores and, of course, caring for Jose. Foul-mouthed Gayle has nothing but contempt for the houseful of ``holy rollers''-especially cousin Cookie, who at 16 still wears kneesocks and hasn't been ``busted'' by a man, much less kissed. But through learning about family history from astute, acid-tongued Great and Miss Auntie, Gayle, who has always stood defiantly alone, begins to see how she is an integral part of a greater whole. Williams-Garcia (Fast Talk on a Slow Track) perhaps effects a faster metamorphosis in Gayle than is strictly credible, but no matter. The emotions ring true, as does the portrait of contemporary black culture. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)