Paperback: 288 pages
Book Reviewed by Idrissa Uqdah
Not Just Another Girlfriends' Tale
Lipsey's fourth and most recent Christian novel, Beautiful Ugly is chock full of emotion, trials and sisterly support but the storyline is much more than your usual ’Sistahgurl’ story.
Envy Wilson, Layla Hobbs and Kacie Mayweather are all thirty-something, single, African American Christian women whose personalities and lifestyles are as different as day and night. This trio all came from different places in their lives to where they are today. Their challenges distinguish the women even more.
On the surface, Envy is the ’It Girl’. She's beautiful, well-dressed, professionally accomplished and financially secure. She has worked hard in life but is held hostage by a horrible secret that paralyzes her with the fear that she will someday be found out. She's emotionally detached, except in her relationship with Layla and Kacie; with whom she finds the love and acceptance that she can't find with her mother or her sister. Past hurts prevent her from accepting real love from a man and few try to get inside her hardened heart.
Layla is the big girl with a big heart and an anointed voice, yet her self-esteem issues prevent her from seeing her beauty or the power in her singing. She accepts the worst of losers in the men she dates and doesn't see her true beauty. Layla comes from a loving family of parents, and an older brother and sister who look out for the ’baby of the family’. She's in dire financial straits most of the time and uses her skills as a ’kitchen beautician’ to make money to stay afloat as she eats her way through life until a tragedy leaves her with no other alternative than to lose the weight.
Kacie carries much more baggage than the others. She's a single mother with six children by almost as many different men and has never been married. Born with cerebral palsy, she has used sex as a barometer by which to measure her ability to prove she is as normal as any other woman just because she can ’get a man’. Despite her handicap and her large brood of fatherless babies; Kaci is a very attractive woman and men still find her hot. The problem is that the fire subsides long before wedding bells ring and each time she finds that the man she thought was the love of her life has moved on and left her with another mouth to feed.
The author has developed complex characters who are believable and endearing to the reader. Their struggles are familiar, their ties are strong like most Black female friendships; yet their story is not your usual story. These women are members of Cummings Street Baptist Church where they struggle with living Godly lives in a secular world that beckons them due to their challenges. Lipsey's picturesque characters became ’girlfriends in my head’. Her descriptive writing style portrayed each woman in a way that I could actually ’see’ them and their surroundings as I read the book. Now, that is the kind of novel that keeps me reading.
These women eventually learn how to lean on the Lord and follow God's Word in order to be delivered from their demons. The road that brings them to this point is full of lessons to be learned by Christian women everywhere. Beautiful Ugly was a great read. I'd give it five thumbs up!