Gotta Keep On Tryin'
Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
Touchstone, Jan 2008, $24.00
African American single mom Gayle Saunders knows she has come a long way since her homeless days caused by her gambling husband Ramsey (see TRYIN' TO SLEEP IN THE BED YOU MADE) as she raises her beloved teenage daughter, Vanessa alone. She and her long time best friend business partner Patricia Reid have made a success of their Ell Crawford children's books and related merchandise. Whereas Gayle is the artist, Pat is the business; together they have turned Ell & Me into a thriving firm.
As Gayle struggles with the sudden rebellion of Vanessa who wants to become a professional dancer and moves into the home of her boyfriend, Pat struggles with the arrival of teenager Tiffani who claims that Marcus is her father. Although DNA testing proves otherwise, Marcus wants to help her make it while neglecting his wife Pat. Since kindergarten Pat and Gayle have been there for one another if only to listen, but this time neither can talk about the fears inside of their respective hearts.
Success does not necessarily bring happiness as Gayle and Pat learn the hard way in this fine family drama. Each of the key players, not just the Ell & Me two entrepreneurs are fully developed. Thus the audience understands why Marcus wants to help Tiffani; Vanessa needs to leave home although she does not slice the financial cord; Pat feel insecure Gayle feels all alone; and Tiffani manipulates the four of them. Although at times the story line dips into soap opera territory, readers will enjoy the sequel that follows the personal lives of two friends and their families.