Terri Schlichenmeyer | 8/3/2015, 11:43 a.m.
“Mama’s Boy” by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
c.2015, Gallery Books $15.00 / $20.00 Canada 313 pages
You think about it all the time.
The child making headlines in the news could be yours. He could be the kid wrapped up
in trouble he never meant to have, the one whose name is known for the wrong reasons.
And what would you do? You’ve thought about it, and in the new novel “Mama’s Boy”
by ReShonda Tate Billingsley, two mothers act.
The video on TV was so disturbing that Gloria Jones couldn’t bear to watch.
In the clip, there was an altercation. A black boy. A Jasper, Texas, policeman. A scuffle
followed by gunshot. Gloria couldn’t watch – but she couldn’t look away, either.
The boy in the video was her teenage son, Jamal.
He’d always been a good boy, her Jamal, until he started hanging out with troublemakers.
Gloria blamed her husband, Elton, for that; he’d been hard on Jamal lately, always
yelling, always criticizing. She knew that was part of the reason why Jamal never came
home sometimes, and now the authorities were looking for him. Her brain refused to
wrap around the thought that her son was a cop killer…
Kay Christianson liked the sound of that. As the front-runner in a heated election, she
quietly felt confident for a win but she had no time to think about it much. Kay was
Houston’s leading prosecutor, a devoted mother, and wife of defense attorney, Phillip
Christianson. Folks often wondered how that last part worked, how two people could be
on opposing sides and still be happily married but Kay loved her husband’s passion, in
the courtroom and otherwise.
Being the Mayor of Houston would add another level to her perfect life, and Kay was
looking forward to it. With the election nearing, she only had one case to complete, a big
one from Jasper in which a teen was accused of murdering a policeman.
Gloria Jones just couldn’t look away from the video. She knew her son had shot a
policeman, but it had to have been an accident. She couldn’t look away from that clip –
or the other one, the one from Houston. Gloria recognized the prosecutor who could put
her baby boy away for a long time – and when their secret came out, it could change
Every literary cliché in the book. That’s what you’ll find in this book, which is
unfortunate. “Mama’s Boy” could have been so much more.
I had a lot of hope, in fact. Author ReShonda Tate Billingsley snatched a piece of
headline we’re all familiar with, and started her tale of a black teen, a white policeman,
and an altercation that leads to violence. From there, however, we rarely see Jamal except
to move the story along; instead, this tale becomes a run-of-the-mill, same-old drama
between two women, their husbands, and one another.
Yes, I finished this book, so it wasn’t torturous. It wasn’t very unique, either. It was okay,
and you might like it. If you’re looking for something different to read, though, look at
“Mama’s Boy” and think again.