What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day. . .

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY ON AN ORDINARY DAY. . ., Pearl Cleage takes on loneliness, AIDS, love, friendship, and urban terror. In the small town of Idlewild, Michigan, old clashes with new, ignorance clashes with sanity, and hope clashes with despair.

When Ava Johnson is ostracized from her successful Atlanta hair salon after she tests positive for HIV, she goes to stay with her sister in this small, all-black, lakeside community on her way to a new life in San Francisco. She finds her sister Joyce running a church-based support group for young mothers whose husbands or boyfriends are abusive, negligent, and unemployed. Joyce is beginning to make a difference in the lives of these women when the new preacher’s wife discontinues the meetings. Ava also gets reacquainted with Eddie Jefferson, who had been the best friend to Joyce’s now deceased husband, and who is now Joyce’s friend and protector. As Joyce temporarily adopts one of the town’s unwanted babies, and tries to find a new place to hold her meetings, Ava and Eddie find themselves helping Joyce together, and they fall in love. As two young men begin to burglarize the homes of the elderly, and the preacher’s wife pulls strings to get Joyce’s baby taken away, all three find themselves involved in a war to save the sanity of the town.

In spite of the fact that Joyce and Eddie seem almost too good to be true, the feeling at the end that all the bad guys are gone, and some confusion about the status of Ava’s health and what she is doing about it, the book is deeply moving and compassionate, a real insight into the terror of urban life as it spills into the small towns, and a beautiful journey toward finding one’s self.