As the tiny town of Mulberry, Georgia, celebrates its spring Peach Blossom Festival, things are far from peachy for three generations of Pines women.
Eighteen-year-old LaShawndra, who wants nothing more out of life than to dance in a music video, has messed up again -- but this time she isn't sticking around to hear about it. Not that her mother seems to care: Sandra is too busy working on her career and romancing a local minister to notice. It's LaShawndra’s grandmother Lily Paine Pines who is out scouring the streets at midnight looking for her granddaughter. But Lily discovers she is not alone. A ghost of a well-known Mulberry pioneer is coming out of the shadows.
Over the course of one weekend, these three disparate women, guided by the wisdom of three unexpected spirits, will learn to face the pain of their lives and discover that with reconciliation comes the healing they all desperately seek. You Know Better brilliantly portrays the fissures in modern African American family life to reveal the indestructible soul that bonds us all.
African-American favorite Ansa (The Hand I Fan With) focuses in her fourth novel on three generations of troubled women in a small Georgia town, employing the Dickensian device of ghostly guides to lead them to enlightenment. The Peach Blossom Festival is upon tiny Mulberry, but the Pines women have little reason for rejoicing. LaShawndra, an 18-year-old "coochie" who engages in indiscriminate sex and whose greatest aspiration is to dance in a music video, has disappeared. Her mother, Sandra, is too busy with her real estate career, her new romance with a pastor and youth-enhancing beauty treatments to look for LaShawndra. So it falls to the girl's grandmother, Lily, a respected pillar of the community, to perform the search. The book is a first-person triptych, the three Pines women taking turns from oldest to youngest in detailing how they arrived at this latest crisis point and each has a different spirit guide to help her out. Ansa has a clear prose style, and she does a fine job of getting inside the women's heads; the chief problem is that, with the exception of Lily, her protagonists are unsympathetic. Lily herself overplays the religion card, while Sandra and LaShawndra are too selfish to rouse much sympathy. One thing they have in common: all three take the scenic route in their extended confessions, resulting in a book that is almost all past history with very little plot.