The Bingo Queens of Paradise by June Park

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In Oklahoma, where Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is a staple and Bob Barker is king, twenty-eight-year-old Darla Moon struggles to break free and pursue her dreams. A talented seamstress and designer, she is cursed with a semiretired hooker for a mother, a hypochondriac for a sister, a no-good loafer for a brother-in-law, a frog-collecting grandma, and Momma's British lesbian friends, Muff and Freda Bottrell--"Clairvoyants and Tea Leaf Readers Extraordinaire." To make matters worse, Darla lives in Paradise, a drought-ridden bend in the road that's spitting distance from Lamb of God Pentecostal Church and Big Bucks Bingo--a world away from where she wants to be, New York City. But Darla is blessed with the devotion of Elijah True, an elderly black man who nurtured her through childhood; the friendship of Brandy, the town's lonely beautician; and the unexpected love of the Reverend Spirit E. Jackson, a transplanted Australian who drives into town in an old white Cadillac and sweeps her off her feet.

Sadly, as Darla formulates her plan to escape Paradise, turmoil erupts. Family once more stands between her and her suitcase. Momma runs off with a long-distance trucker, Darla's sister is hospitalized with cancer, her sister's two children are sick with worry, and brother-in-law Frank is thrown in jail--charged with impregnating a neighbor's sixteen-year-old daughter. Left unsupervised, Granny gets into trouble of her own, and Pearl, Darla's fourteen-year-old niece, can't cope with her world. Torn between her love for Spirit, her love for Elijah and young Jesse, her keen sense of duty, and the pursuit of a dream, Darla must, for the first time in her life, cast an unflinching eye on all the hard-to-accept truths regarding love, responsibility, and survival.

The Bingo Queens of Paradise is a tour-de-force first novel that lyrically blends a powerful comic voice with a poignant tale of a woman who longs to escape her life and follow her dreams.


About June Park

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Born and educated in England, June Park first trained as a ballerina and performed in many theatrical productions until a nursing career beckoned her. An avid reader, she cut her teeth on Dickens and Austen — and every encyclopedia she could lay her hands on. But become a writer? “Never occurred to me,” she says. “I thought most writers were ordained by God — that others went mad in attics, while others fell prey to alcohol in Paris, so what chance did I have? I wasn’t overly religious, I lacked an attic, and I had no plans to go abroad.” Park, an ardent people watcher, feels compelled to write stories hinting of discrimination, and about women scrimping and struggling to raise themselves and their children—not always well, but the best they know how. Now a multi-award winning author, she is now at work on her second novel.
Published May 3, 2000 by Harper Paperbacks. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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This supple, snappy first novel introduces Darla in 1976 as an eight-year-old left in charge of six-year-old Rhonda and their sometimes senile and occasionally brilliant grandmother, Sophie, who receives ""divine messages"" from the Planet of Headbreakers, while their mother, Roxie, the town pros...

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