Author: Patricia Jones
Date Released: 2001
Page Count: 352
Isbn10 Code: 0380817306
Isbn13 Code: 9780061916700
From Publishers Weekly Veiled advice for newlyweds and a thoughtful exploration of racism distinguish this novel set in Baltimore's contemporary African-American community during the muggy summertime. The heat triggers flaring tempers at least in bride-of-two-years Lila Calloway when her tradition-bound stepmother Eulelie chides Lila for asking her cardiac surgeon husband Jack to mix the salad. The young couple, still much in love, are comfortable with sharing not only deep emotions but daily chores despite Lila's upbringing as the pampered daughter of influential Judge Giles; Jack grew up disadvantaged, but has become highly successful in his profession. Lila has a satisfying career as well in an online reading program for children and looks forward to motherhood; her standards for herself and others are high and uncompromising. When a trivial incident becomes a life and death matter, Lila must face the fact that moral issues are seldom simple and that her husband, the soul of rectitude, could, to his silent regret, make the wrong choice. Jones spares no one in her indictment of racism. Vicious taunting by rednecks, social prejudice among blacks according to their skin color and baiting by some blacks of their more successful brethren are integrated into the narrative. Meanwhile, lengthy passages of introspection and frequent flights of violent imagination mar rather than enhance Lila's characterization. She seems merely rude in "truth-telling" to her houseguests, stepmother and father-in-law; moreover, self-righteousness makes her less than sympathetic. Mercifully, Jones (Passing) restrains from sensationalizing a serious story about the effects of racism, and the credible, upbeat ending doesn't vitiate the strength of its message. (Nov.)Forecast: While this book will be targeted to the African-American market, strong prose and an honest point of view should recommend it to a wider audience. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal The story of Lila Giles Calloway, begun in Jones's debut novel, Passing, continues here as her marriage to Dr. Jack Calloway blooms and her children's Internet story-hour brings her into the limelight. No longer the pawn of her wealthy stepmother's social maneuverings, Lila lacks only the joys of motherhood. Her near-perfect life crumbles, however, when, in an ugly racial incident, Jack refuses to help a bigoted white man, which results in the man's death. Suddenly, Lila must publicly confront racism in her own life. In a flash of self-discovery, she learns that her imperfections make her life like the "red on a rose," which, if stared at long enough, proves uneven and flawed. Jones's homey scenes depict the mundane aspects of life, such as fighting with one's stepmother over who clears the dishes, the pleasures of a glass of lemonade made by a friend, and the irrational worries that inhabit our nights. Unfortunately, the story rarely rises above the mundane, and when it does, important issues of racial prejudice, integrity, and honor play second fiddle to Lila's obsession with her marriage and desire for a child. As African American women's fiction, this book lacks the wit and insight of Bebe Moore Campbell and Pearl Cleage. An optional purchase. Jennifer Baker, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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