by Bil Wright
Reviewed by Thumper
Bil Wright, author of Sunday You Learn to Box, has returned with his wonderful sophomore effort, One Foot in Love. I loved Wright's debut novel and was anxious to read his new one. A novel of love, heartbreak, and living life to its fullest, One Foot in Love, which features a few of the characters I read in one of Wright's short story, is a creamy smooth mature novel that I could not help but to get caught up in. I loved it.
Rowtina Washington is pretty content with her life, especially being married to Terrance G. Washington, aka Turtle. One day Turtle suffers a stroke while driving his UPS truck. He dies, killing three people when the truck crashes through a glass store window. Rowtina now has to live a life she did not think could exist, one without Turtle. Soon after Turtle's death, Rowtina is approached by Nelda Battey, a fellow nurse at Rowtina's hospital, to join the support group, Leave Him and Live, which is ran by Osceola McQueen. In the support group, Rowtina will form relationships with these women who will provide aid and comfort on her painful journey to learning how to live again.
I love One Foot in Love, every square inch of it. As I was reading the novel, half way through it, I kept getting a small notion that I had read about Rowtina before, a d’j’ vu feeling. The light bulb finally switched on, Jalape’o Love. Jalape’o Love is a short story Wright contributed to the Black Silk anthology. The story was one of the few high points in a somewhat tired anthology. I was pleasantly taken aback that Wright would expand and alter the short story to a novel, a good thing too, seeing as how the novel is awesome.
I know this may sound strange, especially when one considers the premise of the novel but I can not help it, One Foot in Love is a little ray of sunshine. The story was smooth and flowed so well, before I knew it, I was at the end. Wright definitely showed Rowtina's heart wrenching grief. My heart almost grew heavy. When I finished the novel, I said to myself, that was an easy read. While basking in the afterglow, it occurred to me that the novel was very detailed orientated. Wright left out nothing of Rowtina's grieving or learning to breathe on her own. I was blown away. Any other time, the inclusion of all of these small intricate details would have bored me to tears. I did not mind it here.
The characters were complex, interesting and did not get on my nerves, not one time. The Leave Him and Live support group: Rowtina, Osceola, Nelda, along with Lucy Antiglione, a waitress and abused wife, and Egyptia Nelson, a stuck up teacher who has to have a man; Wright did an incredible job developing the characters. Despite the women having different backgrounds and problems, Wright managed to show a true bond between these women. A refreshing display of friendship after all of the pseudo family of the three or four sista girlfriends type books that I have read over the years.
I can not say exactly what I expected from One Foot in Love. What I got was a
painful, yet comforting, life reaffirming novel. It was the literary equivalent
of slipping into a warm bath where the water is just the right temperature.
Wright has proven to be a skilled writer with a wonderful sense of timing, deft
and graceful touch. I look forward to his next effort.