Getting Mama out of Hell
by Laurie Moore
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432828806
Date: 20 August 2014
A spoof of sorts, Getting Mama out of Hell follows the deceased Elle Winthrop and her daughter Elizabeth as they attempt to free Elle's mother from Hell. They make a bargain with St. Peter to get five people to do a good deed in her mother's name within thirty days. However, they soon learn it's no easy task because most Elle's Mama's acquaintances hated her. Further, Elle has been placed in the body of a delinquent black teen-ager while Elizabeth has entered the body of elderly and wealthy Adelaide Hollingsworth.
Sly, the teenager, is on the run from his drug dealer and the police. He's also suspected of mugging Adelaide. For Elle, just learning to communicate using Sly's vocabulary is a major challenge. Sly is under house arrest and expected to help his team win a championship. Elle knows nothing about basketball.
Meanwhile, Adelaide's avaricious daughter and her husband are determined to have her committed to an institution claiming she is incompetent and a victim of Alzheimer's. They drug and mistreat her. However, Elizabeth is on to them and tries to change Adelaide's life.
Both Winthrop women have troubling staying in the character of these strange people. Elle also battles her desire for the handsome police detective she had planned to marry before the accident that killed her and Elizabeth. She keeps phoning him to say goodbye. He believes she’s a crank.
Meanwhile, in addition to the police and the drug dealer, another bully has it in for Sly for stealing his girlfriend. Bullets fly and Elle and Elizabeth fear they will be killed again without setting Mama free.
Getting Mama's friends to do a good deed in her name appears impossible. However, Elle keeps trying. Cooperation comes from strange places. Elle also gets a major education in how not to win friends. Those who knew Mama considered her a bitch.
The novel is not so much a mystery as a rollicking adventure where black meets white and somehow good surmounts all obstacles. The author overreaches at times, but most readers will enjoy the adventure and root for Elle, Elizabeth, Sly, and Adelaide.