"He structures his story well, his characters are distinctive, and his dialogue lively."– Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Morgan is determined to live her truth as a quirky black girl in a predominantly white, small town in Southern California while struggling with depression and anxiety.
Morgan has more than her fair share of teen angst. She’s regularly the only black person in the room, frequently told that she’s “not really black.” She takes medication for depression and anxiety. Her history teacher is clueless about black history and idolizes Ronald Reagan. For a Goodwill clothes–wearing “emo” girl in a sunny Southern California suburb, Christian school is “like going to high school inside a church inside a PacSun.” And Morgan is tired of having to act like she’s religious. She has doubts about faith and her ability to handle life, and if she were white, she’d be cool in a late-’90s teen film kind of way. But a black manic pixie dream girl is not something her peers embrace as cool. With music as a solace and constant companion, Morgan and her motley crew of friends navigate love, bullying, and an uncertain future. Poet Parker offers readers a heart-filled, laugh-out-loud hilarious YA fiction debut. Morgan’s pain and passion electrify every page. Her life feels like a mess, but faced with racism, rejection, and everyday growing pains, her hope and determination still shine through.
A funny, clever, wild ride of a story about growing up and breaking free. (Fiction. 12-adult)
A magician falls for an investment adviser in another mystery/romance by prolific author Parker (Surviving Goodbye, 2014, etc.).
In Detroit, magician Violet, the “female alternative to Criss Angel,” wows audiences while masked and in a Catwoman costume. Violet’s manager and lover, Luke Kemble, has been in her life since college. Spurred by robust box office returns, the pair hopes to take the show to Broadway and eventually Las Vegas. One night, Violet invites spectator Carter Borden to participate in her act. The two have sparkling onstage chemistry, and Violet shares her phone number with Carter, who often thinks of her but doesn’t call. An expert on options and derivatives, Carter has many wealthy clients, including Bill Thomason, who has invested in Violet’s act. Bill is concerned about a potential romance between Violet and Carter; the disruption of Luke and Violet’s manager-performer dynamic could have negative consequences. A good introduction cleverly sets the stage, and care is taken in developing the relationship between Violet and Carter. The novel doesn’t take itself too seriously, offering a pleasant excursion into the world of magic and a light touch with characterization and plotting. The setting is a plus, shining a light on Carter’s hometown, the beleaguered city of Detroit. Other positives include Carter’s shared past with his ex-wife (he drives by her house frequently), the revelation of the secret behind an illusion in Violet’s act, and an unexpected identity twist near book’s end. An extended torture sequence (and the justification for it) strains credulity, and some questions remain unanswered.
An entertaining bit of fluff; implausible
in parts but delivers romance and violence, per the title.
Reeling after a shocking deathbed confession from his wife, a man in this novel tries to put his life back together.
Just before she died from cancer, Elliot Fitch’s beloved wife, Karen, told him he was not the biological father of their teenage daughter, Elena. A year later, Elliot, still filled with depression and rage, is obsessed with tracking down “the man who had destroyed my marriage and my image of my dead wife.” (He now thinks of her as a “cheating whore.”) Meanwhile, he learns that Elena is pregnant. He vows to support her, feeling guilty and not wanting to be the kind of father who “never really gave a fuck about the well-being of the girl he was supposed to have raised into a lady, not a whore.” As Elliot investigates Karen’s former boyfriends—or, as he puts it, “those who had travelled through that sacred territory before I did”—he’s aided by Veronica, a pretty young delivery driver and single mother he met while signing for a sex toy ordered by his daughter. They fall in love while together unraveling the mystery—with surprising results. Parker (Sick Day, 2014, etc.) is a more than competent writer in many ways: He structures his story well, his characters are distinctive, and his dialogue lively. But it’s hard to get past this book’s uncomfortable levels of ick, e.g., father and daughter creepily giggling and teasing each other about masturbation and sex toys or several scenes of masturbation/sex being interrupted by offspring. (Nevertheless, an Elliot/Veronica sex scene is nicely handled.) Elliot’s over-the-top resentment about Elena’s parentage tends to elbow into every interaction: As she vomits, he hopes “that my daughter—who wasn’t biologically mine in the first place—would be okay.” His petty grudges extend back to Elena’s preschool days, when he had to paint her room while she went out with mom for a pedicure. Elliot’s constant poutiness and—sometimes almost literal—dick-measuring betray many unpleasant insecurities. Finally, the trick ending is an implausible groaner.
A severe case of Madonna/whore syndrome plus a hard-to-swallow twist make for a difficult read.