cover image Single Mom

Single Mom

Omar Tyree. Simon & Schuster, $24 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-684-85592-9

Endearing earnestness and a promising setup can't save Tyree's latest (after A Do Right Man) from a terminal case of the blahs. After 10 years of raising Walter and Little Jay, her sons fathered out of wedlock by two different men, self-made businesswoman Denise Stewart finds herself increasingly, though platonically, involved with their fathers, each of whom has suddenly taken an interest in his offspring--just as Denise is embarking on a new, serious romance with a third man, a truck-driver named Brock. A more imaginative writer would have made comedy or light drama of the improbable premise, but Tyree plows ahead, straightfaced, through soporific domestic minutiae: endless Thanksgiving dinners, sports analyses, Christmas shopping sprees and discussions of the virtues of hardwood floors. The fathers (one a failed basketball player, now a laborer, the other an upwardly mobile banker who learns to value family over money) buckle under the heavy sociological weight Tyree asks them to carry. Although there's never any doubt that Denise will marry the goodhearted, doltish Brock, Tyree never quite explains why she wants to cast her lot with him. In one way or another, each of the figures is a mouthpiece for responsible fatherhood or the difficulties of single motherhood. At nearly 400 pages, the novel will wear out its welcome even with Tyree's many loyal fans. (Oct.)