Gotta Keep on Tryin' is the long-awaited sequel to Virginia DeBerry’s and Donna Grant’s 1997 debut, Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made. Eleven years is a long time coming, arguably too long, for readers to wait for a sequel. For readers like myself who read the first book when it was originally published, the details are fuzzy and the strong desire to find out what became of the main characters has since waned. However, I always eagerly anticipate any new work from this super-talented writing pair. The authors have a knack for writing cohesively as one voice and a penchant for capturing the essence of true friendship, the associated up and downs, joys and pains and realistic day-to-day issues that impact women/friends.
Gotta Keep on Tryin' revisits Gayle Saunders and Pat Reid, comrades who are now approaching forty and facing a whole new set of challenges, as well as one or two from the past.
Pat is the strong-willed go-getter of the two. She is married to Marcus Carter, co-owner of a sports management agency that is somewhat successful but not quite as lucrative as Ell & Me, the company that Pat co-owns with Gayle. Pat and Marcus are so busy with their respective careers and companies that their marriage suffers, and Pat often finds herself lonely. Another factor affecting their union is the fact that Marcus wants to have a child while Pat avoids the subject. A secret from her past has her dodging maternity, but she can’t sidestep parenting for long, especially when Tiffani enters the picture.
A teenager whose mother has died, Tiffani claims that Marcus is her father. Both Pat and Marcus are on pins and needles as they wait for DNA results. Meanwhile, Tiffani, the perfect potential daughter, is just that - until she starts dating one of Marcus’s top clients.
While Pat is navigating through her various issues, Gayle is experiencing several of her own that are leading to anxiety, stress and depression, but nobody knows it but her. Her teenage daughter’s behavior has gone from bad to uncontrollable. Her social life is non-existent because she still harbors feelings for her ex-husband. A huge toy corporation is looking to acquire Ell & Me, the company that grew from her personal creation. It all becomes quite overwhelming, but Gayle handles it the best way she knows how.
Gotta Keep on Tryin' is a commendable follow-up effort but not as powerful or as provocative as Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made. For the first time with this author duo, the writing is a bit disjointed and not as unified as previous works. At times, it seems as though there are too many conflicts and sub-plots that are built up to keep you turning pages but ultimately fizzle out and lose impact. Another drawback is the lack of backstory that will inevitably force readers to go back and read (or re-read) the first book.
Nonetheless, DeBerry and Grant have penned an entertaining read. Those readers who have been waiting for years to see what became of Pat and Gayle are sure to be satisfied with this drama-filled journey. From deception to disorder, this book will have you cheering one moment and wanting to reach out and slap a character the next.