Cover to Cover: ‘Sister Betty says I Do’

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The “Save the Date!” notices went out months before.

You had the hall you wanted, the dress made you look like an angel and the cake was magnificent. Your official invitations were dropped in the mail on a Saturday and the actual day arrived in a heartbeat. You got married!

Everybody loves a good wedding, and yours was the best. But in the new novel “Sister Betty Says I Do” by Pat G’Orge-Walker, there were lots of obstacles littering the aisle.

In the small town of Pelzer, everybody knew Sister Betty Becton.

It was hard not to. A sixty-something, “five-foot-two brown ball of fire,” Sister Betty had a special connection with God: nearly thirty years ago, He called her on the phone, right in the middle of her soap opera. That must’ve cost the Almighty a grip, though, since all subsequent messages came through pains in Sister Betty’s knees.

And Sister Betty had been spending a lot of time on those knees in church lately, praising and thanking God for sending her Freddie Noel. Yes, Sister Betty made mistakes in the past, but God saw fit to send Trustee Noel into her life, and she and Freddie were getting married. Everything—plans, family, and all— seemed to be God-approved.

Then Ima Hellraiser came to town.

When Sister Betty and her spiritual son, Pastor Leotis Tom, went to pick Betty’s cousin, Sharvon, at the airport, there was Ima, waiting for her ride and talking and laughing with Sharvon like they were old friends.

On any another day, they might have been. But they were about to be enemies.
With curves where there shouldn’t have been curves and big beautiful eyes, Ima set her sights on marrying Pastor Tom and becoming first lady of Crossing Over Sanctuary. Problem was, Sharvon had the same notions.

And as if that wasn’t enough trouble, Mother Sasha Pray Onn and Mother Bea Blister kept sticking their noses into Sister Betty’s wedding plans. Betty could barely stand those old heifers, but prayer gave her strength and Freddie-hough he was mighty tired of the drama –gave her love.

And then Sister Betty’s “knee phone” started to hurt…

“Sister Betty Says I Do” is okay. Not great. Not horrible. It’s okay.

It’s not a laugh-a-minute, though it has its moments. Author G’Orge-Walker inserts a lot of puns, sarcasm, and silliness in this novel to keep a reader amused. Sister Betty is a wonderful character and perhaps the most realistic, but the other members of the cast were a little on the cartoonish side. The story itself was fine and moved along nicely, although there were times when it got a little too convoluted and I grew awfully tired of multiple rivalries.

And yet, I’m pretty sure that deep and thought-provoking isn’t the point of this novel. I think it’s supposed to be light and light-hearted, and it succeeds on that plane. So, in the end, if you’re looking for an easy, entertaining novel just for fun, “Sister Betty Says I Do” will probably do.

(“Sister Betty Says I Do” by Pat G’Orge-Walker, c.2013, Kensington Dafina, $15/$16.95 Canada, 304 pages.)

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