Macon, Georgia, native Tina McElroy Ansa published her second novel, Ugly Ways, in 1993. Ansa ranks as an influential novelist, teacher, filmmaker and journalist who lives in my hometown on the Georgia coast. Ugly Ways tells the story of three sisters–Betty, Emily and Annie Ruth Lovejoy–who return to fictional Mulberry, Georgia, for their mother’s funeral.

Ugly Ways earned the Best Fiction Novel of 1994 by The African-American Blackboard List. Ansa was also nominated for a NAACP Image Award for this book. The three Lovejoy sisters deal with the death of their domineering mother, Mudear, and confront how influential she was in their lives now that her body rests at the funeral home.

Each member tells their version of the family story, and how everything revolved around ‘The Change’ in their mother. This is a funny book, with moments of sadness and very vivid images. The economical dialogue proves hypnotic from these–as their mother would say–“damn black girl hippies”.

Ugly Ways offers 277 pages of evidence to prove Tina McElroy Ansa stands as a first-rate storyteller.