I'm pretty good at characters and I'm really good at plot. Voice, for me, is nearly impossible to master. Sometimes it happens, most times it doesn't, and my prose is workman-like.
The first paragraph in Girlchild: A Novel is this:
Mama always hid her mouth when she laughed. Even when she spoke too gleefully, mouth stretched too wide by those happy muscles, teeth too visible. I can still recognize someone from my neighborhood by their teeth. Or lack of them. And whenever I do, I call these people family. I know immediately that I can trust them with my dog but not with the car keys and not to remember what time, exactly, they’re coming back for their kids. I know if we get into a fight and Johnny shows up, we'll agree that there has been "No problem, Officer, we'll keep it down.
I read that and thought: "I will follow that voice anywhere.
Girlchild is the story of Rory Dawn Hendrix lives with her mom in the Calle de las Flores Trailer Park outside of Reno. Rory's mom was 15 when she first got pregnant, as was Rory's grandmother. She comes from a long line of welfare moms, alcoholics and gamblers. Can she escape her fate?
Girlchild has the feel of a book written from personal pain. The characters are certainly memorable. The plot could have been stronger, but again this book has an inimitable voice. Read it for that.