Walking in Tall Weeds

Dysfunction Junction Excerpt


“WHAT TIME IS IT?” Annabelle’s voice quavered as she studied the shadows huddling under the sliding board in Lincoln Park. She expected the streetlight at the corner to come on at any minute, and she didn’t think her four-year-old legs could outrun those mis- shapen silhouettes if they had a mind to chase her. They were in spitting distance of home, but her fear made it feel much farther.

Apparently unperturbed, Frances Mae peeled off the paper from her second block of Hubba Bubba and popped it onto her tongue. Her teeth worked at the gum until she could chew more easily. When she opened her mouth to speak, she wiped a bit of spit from the edge of her lip. “Mama’s not expectin’ us any time soon. She likes time to herself after she closes the store.”

They both knew their mama wasn’t going to be alone for long. But at that moment, all Annabelle could think about was that she didn’t like being outside at this time of day. On top of that, she was hungry, and the overpowering scent of strawberries wafting from Frankie’s mouth wasn’t helping a bit.

Their mama had shooed them out of the house two hours ago with strict instructions not to come back until not one, but all the lamps standing guard around the playground were brightly lit. Annabelle peered up at the sky that had started out a pale blue but had transitioned to streaks of purple and gray. Birds flapped across the horizon and disappeared, as if they, too, knew it was time to go somewhere cozy and settle down for the night. Her eyes welled. “It’s gonna be dawk soon.”

“No, it’s not. Besides, Mama’s friend said if we listen, he’ll get her to give us some more candy next time he comes over.” Frances Mae used her index finger and thumb to pinch the end of her gum. She extended her arm as far as it could go while her teeth clamped onto the other end of the sticky treat their new friend had given her.

Annabelle scratched the inside of her elbow and watched her sister twirl and stretch her gum this way and that with her dirt- smudged fingers, mindless of the mosquitoes and gnats flying about.

Annabelle didn’t want another piece of Hubba Bubba or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, even though she loved licking at the chocolate until she worked her way to the middle. Besides, wrapped or not, those miniature bricks Frankie had stuffed into her cheeks looked like they’d been gathering dust by the register in Mama’s store more days than Annabelle could count with both her small hands.

All the treats from McNair’s were either leftovers or stale. Her sister should know that as well as Annabelle did. But no, Frances Mae scarfed down all those soft crackers and chewy potato chips like they tasted better than the hamburgers and fries from McDonald’s. Mama smiled and carried on like her new man had done something, making them shake his hand and say thank you.

Shoot, Annabelle didn’t want any part of that gum.

Dysfunction Junction
By Robin W. Pearson

Walking in Tall Weeds

Walking in Tall Weeds Excerpt

“All? It’s just my aunt and uncle coming, not the entire Baldwin calvary.” Dad snapped his buckle into place. His eyes connected with McKinley’s as he adjusted his rearview mirror, but in a blink, his attention returned to the road that led from the airport lot. “I don’t know why y’all persist in calling it ‘prison’ every time Aunt Juju and Uncle Lawrence come to town.”

“Because Julia persists in tellin’ me how I should think and feel. I can’t be comfortable…around my own kitchen table, no less.” Mama’s soft voice bounced off the glass.

“Not that you’re ever comfortable in the kitchen,” Dad murmured, his voice barely discernible.

McKinley shifted his position on the soft leather seat as if parrying his father’s low blow. When he peeked at his mother’s reflection, he didn’t linger long on her high cheekbones, narrow nose, or skin the color of chai tea with heavy cream. What claimed his attention was her cloaked expression. It peered inward rather than at the people they were leaving behind. Though her eyes tended to duck and hide when she was feeling some kind of way, they declared her emotions the way a herald announced the arrival of the king. Right now, they blared to those who would listen, “When those people are around, my own skin doesn’t fit me.”

Yet McKinley knew uttering those words didn’t fit his mother either. And his father had stopped up his ears long ago.

He pressed his forehead to the cool glass and imagined scribbling HELP ME with his index finger. Wherever the folks out there were headed had to be better than serving time in the armed camp the Baldwins’ house became when his great-aunt rolled into town, his great-uncle in tow. Even now, he could hear the click of pistols loading.

Walking in Tall Weeds
By Robin W. Pearson

‘Til I Want No More Excerpt

She dragged herself from her stupor to find both Evelyn and Theodore staring at her. Maxine’s smile wavered but never quite righted itself on her face, so she stopped trying and shrugged. “Oops, you caught me. I’ve got a lot on my mind these days. What did I miss?”

“Your fiancé asked how long we’ve known each other, and I told him we were raised eating grits and bacon together.”

“Then you should be able to tell me why Maxine uses Mama Ruby instead of calling her Grandma or Grandmother. Is that a North Carolina thing?” When silence rolled in like a fog after his question, Teddy turned to Maxine.

Maxine imagined herself straining to pick up a set of barbells. She kept sliding off weights until finally, she stripped the truth to its bare bones. “My mother left me with my grandparents for a couple years after my daddy died. During that time I started calling my grandmother ‘Mama Ruby’ because she became a mother to me. That’s when I met Evelyn.” This time she mustered a smile to lighten the mood. “Evelyn’s Granny B introduced me to tender greens, and my life was forever changed.”

Evelyn’s eyes twinkled. “Forever changed? Really? So why was I not good enough to meet this guy?”

If anyone’s not good enough . . . “Guilty again. It all happened so fast, Ev.”

“I see that.” Evelyn tapped Maxine’s shoulder in what seemed a gentle rebuke. “Theodore, you do know you’ve got a passionflower on your hands.”

“Maxine? My Maxine? No-o-o, she’s a peach blossom.”

More like a wild Irish rose, Maxine thought.

‘Til I Want No More
By Robin W. Pearson

A Long time Comin'

Christy Award Winner, First Novel

A Long Time Comin’ Excerpt

“Granny B had had it hard, and there was no way her granddaughter could ever separate her from an ounce of her pain and suffering, not that anyone could. Evelyn believed that every morning, before Granny B got dressed, she put on this suit of armor—not her full armor of God because that never came off. Her past. And she buttoned it up tight. It protected her from all kinds of nasty things, such as healing, redemption, or a cool balm for those festering sores of resentment and sadness. And it also prevented her from taking much pleasure from the faith she set such store by.

Besides Henton’s check, Lis and Evelyn were the only parts of the family who regularly stopped by. Even Kevin kept his distance, despite Beatrice’s view that Evelyn was glued to her husband’s hip. Under the guise of “settin’ things right,” she stopped by just to spend time with the crusty piece of bread that was her grandmother. Sometimes during her visits Granny B related some memory of the past, providing small details about this event or that. Evelyn often pictured all those people from her grandmother’s past, banging their tiny fists on the inside of her lips, begging for air, but not even Little Ed could pry them open with his strong fingers. Her Granny B wouldn’t set them free until she wanted to, and then only for a short spell.”

A Long Time Comin’
By Robin W. Pearson


“Beautifully written, so visual—I felt immersed in [Dysfunction Junction] from the first page. Robin W. Pearson’s writing has that rare mix of depth, raw honesty, while still maintaining an undertone of humor and hopefulness. The perfect book club book for an in-depth conversation. I think this book will be helpful to those on a road to healing from a difficult past. Bravo!”

CINDY MORGAN, award-winning singer/songwriter and author of The Year of Jubilee

“There is healing for the broken, and Robin W. Pearson delivers a strong testament to that fact in her latest poetically written novel, Dysfunction Junction. Readers will be stirred and healed after reading this one.”

VANESSA MILLER, bestselling author of The American Queen

“You can’t help choosing favorites [in Dysfunction Junction]. Then again, you’ll change your mind again and again as author Robin W. Pearson brings together three finely drawn characters—Frankie, Annabelle, and Charlotte—who must reluctantly join forces to wrestle the ghosts of their troubled childhood, come to terms with memories of neglect, and envision a future that’s free of resentment and filled with grace.”

VALERIE FRASER LUESSE, bestselling author of Under the Bayou Moon

“Southern charm flows like molasses through barbed conversations in Dysfunction Junction as [they] strive to find healing from festering mother wounds. Secrets and guilt wrestle their way to redemption in this quirky family tapestry. Robin W. Pearson’s unique voice is complex and captivating.”

TESSA AFSHAR, award-winning author of The Peasant King

“[In Walking in Tall Weeds] Pearson skillfully captures the complexity of family dynamics and the ways racism’s scars persist across generations.”

Publishers Weekly

“Robin W. Pearson takes a brave and deep journey through the tall weeds of a family’s old pain, nagging fears, and challenging choices—painting a portrait of the path any willing family can take to finally walk into the promise of courageous, new life.”

Patricia Raybon, award-winning author of All That Is Secret

“When I read Robin W. Pearson’s latest, I saw my own heart….And in the tapestry she weaves with words, I find what I hold on to, what I need to set free, and the striving in between.”

Chris Fabry, bestselling author of A Piece of the Moon

“Robin W. Pearson has a gift for capturing the complexity and nuances of family relationships. She brings a remarkable tenderness and compassion to the struggle we all face to know and be known in a family.”

Sarah Loudin Thomas, award-winning author of The Right Kind of Fool

“Pearson invites us—a large family from different backgrounds, skin tones, experiences—to tune our ears to the song of unity and forgiveness that is only possible through the power of Christ. [Her] voice is strong and powerful. Listen up! You don’t want to miss a note!”

Susie Finkbeiner, award-winning author of The Nature of Small Birds and Stories that Bind Us

“…Pearson weaves together a rich tapestry of Southern charm while exposing issues often hidden behind polite dialect. Where families will finally see the importance of looking at their past through a lens of awareness in order to do better, instead of allowing the past to rob them of the joy of the here and now.”

T.I. Lowe, bestselling author of Under the Magnolias

“Pearson’s excellent characters and plotting capture the complexity and beauty of family, the difficulty of rectifying mistakes, and the healing that comes from honesty. Pearson rises to another level with this excellent story.”

Publishers Weekly, ‘Til I Want No More  

“’Til I Want No More feels like an extended afternoon at a family reunion barbecue, complete with mouthwatering food, spilled family secrets, and voices of faith that never lose hope. This brilliantly written story reminds us that God is bigger than the struggles that all families face, yet as a woman of color, I love that Robin’s courageous characters look and sound like me.” 

Barb Roose, speaker and author of Surrendered: Letting Go and Living like Jesus and Joshua: Winning the Worry Battle 

Robin W Pearson has done it again…Maxine’s journey of love, longing, and finding her identity and worth is relatable to so many women, all of whom will be able to resonate with the many emotions of this bride-to-be as she seeks to find the joy and sense of belonging she’s been missing.” 

Angelia White Stone, CEO and editor of Hope for Women magazine 

“Robin W. Pearson writes strong characters who wrap their arms around you and pull you into the family circle, a hubbub of loyalty, secrets, faith, and yes, forgiveness. Nobody’s perfect—but maybe that’s the best theme woven through this book.” 

Beth K. Vogt, award-winning author of the Thatcher Sisters series 

“…Once again [Robin W. Pearson’s] soulful Southern voice brings heart-tugging family relationships into the spotlight with realism and meaningful emotions.” 

Carrie Turansky, award-winning author of No Ocean Too Wide and No Journey Too Far 

“Robin W. Pearson has given us another story that sinks deep into the heart of a family. Her Southern touch adds to the charm and authenticity of her characters, while causing the reader to root for their full restoration.” 

Christina Suzann Nelson, award-winning author of More Than We Remember 

“…Feels like home. You’ll fall in love with Evelyn and Granny B and a cast of memorable characters so rich you won’t want the story to end. We can only hope we’ll be reading more from Robin W. Pearson!”

Chris Fabry, bestselling author of Under a Cloudless Sky and The Promise of Jesse Woods

“Robin W. Pearson delivers a fresh new voice for Southern fiction, treating readers to an inspiring journey through the complex matters of the heart.”

Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“From the first page, Pearson invites readers into the slow unraveling of truth in her characters’ lives as the past and present collide. She writes with both realism and empathy—a powerful combination.”

Beth K. Vogt, Christy Award-winning author

“Starred review. Pearson’s excellent debut explores forgiveness and the burden of secrets. Helping Granny B repair her relationships and come to terms with the past gives Evelyn the strength to work on her own family. Pearson’s saga is enjoyable and uncomfortable, but also funny and persistent in the way that only family can be.” 

Publishers Weekly

“Pearson delivers a poignant debut that explores the faith of one African American family. Though it is perhaps overlong, the writing is strong, and the story is engaging, and readers will be pleased to discover a new voice in southern inspirational fiction. Libraries with Christian-fiction collections will want to add this novel to their shelves.”


“A contemporary fiction masterpiece with well developed, realistic characters, and authentic dialog. . . . Do not miss this one.”

Christian Fiction Advisor

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Walking In Tall Weeds Book Club Kit

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