Weeds of Detroit by Misty Paquette / Misty Provencher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***** 5 Cranky Stars *****
I thoroughly enjoyed Misty Paquette’s “Weeds of Detroit”. It may not be autobiographical but it has a lot of heart in it.
Naturally, being a native Detroiter the title interested me. I was fully prepared to begin dissecting the tale to see if it rang true. I didn’t need to. As soon as Lael Wallace, a white girl from suburban Detroit, hit the highway and entered Royal Oak I recognized the landscape. This piece of fiction had truth to it.
Paquette delivers a poignant story about a teenage runaway who chooses to live in a motel with XXX movies and the type of clientele who enjoy that form of entertainment. Lael manages to look past the ugly and find paradise for a moment.
I liked Lael. She starts out as a kid whose head is filled with all the typical views of life in Detroit. She seals herself in her motel room expecting all of the stereotypes to be outside the door. By the end of the story, however, Lael has a lot of spunk and she’s finally making the right choices.
The best thing I liked about Paquette’s story is how she embraced the essence of Detroit. Yes, the city can be a dangerous place (what large city isn’t), and there’s no way on earth (heaven or hell) would you convince me to take up residence in a motel off of Eight Mile Road. But when the character of Lavina says that people in Detroit are like weeds… ‘No matter how much poison gets poured on ‘em, an’ no matter how much they get stomped down, they rise up ag’in,’ Paquette nailed it. Detroiters are resilient. A lot of crap has happened in and to my hometown. But no matter what it’s still home to people who wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.
A character I didn’t like was Jonah. Why? Because he was the proverbial snake—beautiful to look at but shouldn’t be trusted. It was obvious to me what he was after. Paquette did throw a twist into his game, but I caught on when I saw it unfolding. Will the average reader (aka ‘non-Detroiter’) see through Jonah too? Possibly. If you grew up in Detroit, you might recognize people like Jonah, Lavina, Clive, and the rest of the characters in “Weeds of Detroit”. You either knew people like them, heard about people like them, or witnessed them from afar (like me).
Just a warning. This is not a light-hearted fairy tale about a little girl who goes to the big city. This tale has its share of wolves and other creatures that go bump in the night and day. There are big bad monsters who wait around corners to eat little girls like Lael, nicknamed Fail by a co-worker. But if you have patience and read carefully, there’s hope in these pages. It’s the same hope every Detroiter has, the belief that the city will rise like the legendary phoenix. And it’s this same hope that turned Fail into a Success on the final page.
I highly recommend “Weeds of Detroit” to anyone who wants a gripping story that will make you proud to call Detroit your home, whether you’re a weed or a dandelion.
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