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Cover Girls    by T. D. Jakes order for
Cover Girls
by T. D. Jakes
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio

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*   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Bishop T. D. Jakes' novel Cover Girls follows four women as they learn to balance their love lives, and most of all their pasts, with personal and office problems. Michelle, Tonya, Mrs. Delores Judson, and Miz Ida represent the four seasons. Jakes states 'Just as there are seasons in nature, there are seasons in our lives.' Three of the women work in the same company, while the fourth, Miz Ida, is a savior to all within her reach.

Michelle is in the Summer of her life. She is ambitious, but carries a chip on her shoulder from a past including drugs, prostitution, and molestation by her mother's boyfriend. Separated from husband Todd, and dating unreliable, not-so-nice Trench, Michelle is determined not to be used ever again by anyone. Tonya, in the Autumn of her life, is Michele's team leader. She's a hard-working single mother who depends heavily on her faith. On the outside she is a deeply religious woman, but secretly hides a broken heart, a shattered marriage, and the murder of one son. Tonya idolizes her loving and caring seventeen-year-old son Malik. She is settled and at peace with her life, albeit lonely and tired as if 'she was waiting for something'. Malik shares with his mother the truism 'We usually stay where we are until someone or something happens that makes it harder to stay than it is to move forward!'

In the Winter of life, Mrs. Delores Judson is a wealthy woman, CEO of her company, and boss of Michelle and Tonya. Delores appears to have it all, but not so in her personal life. Delores faces the challenge of raising her thirteen-year old, out-of-control granddaughter. Expelled from four schools for drug use and drinking, Claudia is pregnant. The oldest, seasoned member of the group is Miz Ida. Told that she can't save the world, Ida's outlook is 'I can sure try to help that what's in front of me.' Miz Ida's strong shoulders bear the pain of others. Seeing how her works and prayers strengthen others gives Ida joy in life. Another essential cast member is office mail delivery supervisor Shadrach. A constant optimist, Shad becomes the mediator between Michelle and Tonya, gently coaxing them to discuss their differences and to move on (Shadrach seems to be the author's voice inside the novel.)

This is a light read about human frailty, with believable characters (although only one is fully developed), and features the author's pointers on how to overcome situations. His prolific message is 'that problems do not differentiate between class nor culture'. However, the book often has a preaching style and descriptions immaterial to the story. Though the book lacks a plot, Jakes does get-across valid principles, i.e. building relationships take a lot of work; honest, outright communication is the key to relationships; making changes is not easy; we should practice seeing ourselves in the eyes of others, and nurture awareness that others go through tough times, too. I recommend Cover Girls to those interested in a message of spiritual hope and inspiration.

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