Gleah Powers counts being an actor, model, bartender and teacher of alternative therapies among her many careers. Recently, she’s chosen to add fiction writer to the list with her first novella, Edna & Luna. Powers’s writing style is peppy and easily readable as she tells the story of two diverse women whose lives intersect in the American Southwest.
Edna is a cranky, 70-year-old widow beset with pelvic pains. Luna is a 35-year-old New Age healer who fled from an abusive husband and is not particularly fussy about with whom she sleeps. I kept waiting for the two women to finally become friends after a couple of false starts that serve to interrupt their backstories, which provides background information I would have liked to be integrated more into their time of friendship
Still, the book has a lot going for it. Powers’s characterizations are complete and completely convincing. Edna is a transplant from Chicago to Phoenix. She’s well off, a bit of a boozer, she grew up with a domineering mother, and she is quite critical of other older women: “[ . . . ] wearing fake smiles, too much rouge and eye-liner, flowered sundresses, their wrinkled cleavage and flabby arms showing.” During a tour of a rehabilitation/nursing home, Edna remarks, “I didn’t expect everyone to be so old. All the women have white hair.”
In contrast, Luna lives in a trailer park. She first used her gift of healing when she was nine to cure her cat of a limp. While a teenager, her father Harry taught her to “read minds and predict the future.” They’d go to the mall, close their eyes, receive images of people who rode the escalator, and tell each other what they predicted: “car accident in six months, dead foetus, he’s about to inherit money [ . . . ].” Of course, they didn’t know if they were right, but Harry kept track of their predictions about people they knew, and “they were accurate eight-eight percent of the time.”
When Edna and Luna finally do begin their friendship, Edna’s female problems have increased and she is fearing a hysterectomy. One day as she is snipping flowers in her yard, she collapses onto the grass. Luna finds her and chants Edna onto her feet again. Before long, Luna introduces a bag of goodies that includes “silver bells and bunches of sage and dried herbs.” There is quite a bit of hocus-pocus going on, as Luna burns sage sticks and prepares herbal teas for Edna in an attempt to cure her pains. Though these nurtures may not have the hoped-for effect, they fit well into the context of the tale.
Powers introduces a colorful cast of characters. She brings in Edna’s sister Flo, who apparently escaped their mother’s meanness. Flo visits Edna and brings along her 50-year-old “alien-looking” twin sons, who had been fathered by a snake-handling preacher named Billy. “They didn’t have Billy’s gift or his looks,” writes Powers, “Billy’s inbreeding had caught up to his children.”
Two of the several men in Luna’s life are Darryl, whose “trailer smelled of cabbage and marijuana,” and Mark, a doctor she meets online. One of them is soon to become a dad. Edna also has a suitor, named Joe, who Powers describes thusly: “Joe seemed clean but his collar was frayed, his pants a little too shiny, but his shoes were polished.” Edna manages not only to deflect a pass he makes at her in her swimming pool, but she enlists him as a handyman.
Rounding out the characters, though in a minor role, is a goofy psychic named Kimberly who had a stroke at age 21 and now reads messages from “angel aliens.” We also get acquainted with Edna’s late husband Hank through her memories of their years together.
Powers eventually delivers a touching close to the story. Since much of the plot focuses on Edna’s female problems—cramps, her uterus, etc.—I would classify this as appealing more to women than a general readership. Now Powers is working on a memoir that promises to delve into the details of her various livelihoods. We’ll have to wait and see how much of Edna & Luna might be based on her actual adventures.