At forty-one, Juanita Lewis is running away from home, courtesy of a one-way ticket to Montana, a place that seems about as far away from the violence and poverty of the Columbus, Ohio, projects as the moon. She wants adventure and excitement–if such things exist for a pre-menopausal African American woman with three grown, deadbeat children.
Juanita’s new life in Paper Moon, Montana, begins at a local diner where a culinary face-off with chef and owner Jess Gardiner finds Juanita in front of Jess’s stove serving up home cookin’ that lures the townsfolk like a magic spell. And suddenly Juanita, who was just passin’ through, now has a job by popular demand.
Out here in this wide-open space, Juanita’s heart can no longer hide, especially when she sees herself through the eyes of the wonderful and eccentric people of this down-to-earth town. She’s happy in Paper Moon; she’s found a home, but can she stay? And then there’s Jess. She has always dreamed of romance, but she never planned on falling in love.From the Trade Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The discovery of a stash of romance novels forever changes the life of a downtrodden nurse's aide in this engaging debut. Forty-two-year-old Juanita Lewis, an African-American woman with three grown children, has never read a book before, but once she starts, she can't stop. Emboldened by the stories, she decides to run away from home, change her life and seek adventure. No wonder: home is a two-bedroom apartment in the Columbus, Ohio, projects shared with grand-daughter Teishia; daughter Bertie, who's on welfare and sleeps until noon; and son Rashawn, a drug dealer likely to end up in jail alongside his brother Randy. All are left behind, when, despite their protests, Juanita buys a one-way bus ticket and heads west. In Paper Moon, Mont., her new life begins at breakfast in a diner where a standoff with angry chef/owner Jess Gardiner ends with Juanita at the stove cooking her own bacon and eggs. Two hours later, she's offered a job. No black folk have been seen in town since the Lewis and Clark expedition, and she becomes a sort of tourist attraction and local celebrity. Hoping for excitement, Juanita didn't dream she'd find romance as well. Her unlikely suitor is her taciturn employer, a Lakota descendant still haunted by his stint in Vietnam. This is an easy read, with lively dialogue and a fair share of comedy, but there's a credibility problem: would a longtime enabler and battered woman discover books and suddenly morph into a feisty feminist heroine? It's doubtful, but if so, hooray for literature.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.