Responding to pressures that urge her to define herself racially, sexually, and every other way, a college freshman...



Responding to pressures that urge her to define herself racially, sexually, and every other way, a college freshman barricades herself in her dorm room: a sometimes affecting, often awkward depiction of the ways in which passing political fashions can have lasting and devastating personal effects. Sage Taylor believes she's being stalked, and her terror has her hiding under her bed and compulsively reviewing the details of her early life. The daughter of a white, recently deceased female pediatrician (a former freedom fighter in the 1960s), and a black civil-rights activist who left the family before Sage was born, Sage has long been burdened by the rumor that her father left because he feared that the birth of yet another mixed-race child (she has four siblings) would lead to his financial and political ruin. Dark-skinned while her older siblings appear white, short and broad while they are tall and thin, Sage begins to crumble under the weight of her own self-loathing as older students aggressively demand that she declare herself either black or white, lesbian or straight, and that she sign up accordingly with various activist groups. Her confusion is exacerbated by her grief over her mother's death; she sifts through old family photographs and letters while hiding in her dorm room, trying to come to terms with who her parents were, who she is, and what she wants from her life. A call to the family by the college dean finally brings Sage's siblings running, and they manage to save her from starving to death. Sage's illness also unexpectedly stirs her father into action, leading to a family reconciliation that all the brothers and sisters clearly need. A valuable look at the sometimes painful experience of confronting the ideologies now swirling around college campuses, but Waters's characters unfortunately remain more sketched-in than real, making for a story that is frustratingly unsatisfying.

Pub Date: May 5, 1997


Page Count: 224

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997