STARLIGHT PASSAGE by Anita Richmond Bunkley


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 A spirited historical tour with bestselling Bunkley's customary tablespoon of sugar (Black Gold, 1994, etc.): The facts go down easily enough, but the lavender prose leaves a bit of a headache. Kiana Sheridan is a bright and attractive young woman with a single-minded purpose: To uncover the mysteries of her African- American heritage while in simultaneous pursuit of her Ph.D in history. When she leaves behind her comfortable high-school teaching job, her dead-end relationship (to an unambitious Gulf War vet), and her entire former life in Houston, Kiana doesn't look back; once in Washington, D.C., she begins recovering her family history by first learning all she can about her great-great grandfather, an escaped slave and the talented glass artist whose work has only recently become the enthusiastic focus of collectors. But there are obstacles standing between Kiana and her doctoral dissertation/pilgrimage: stepsister Ida, a con artist who was once jailed for credit card fraud, has reasons of her own for interfering with Kiana's goals (sheer greed being the primary motivation), and Kiana's own beloved grandmother Hester seems determined to bury the past forever. With the help of photojournalist Rex Tandy (the handsome, sensitive tour guide of the Underground Railroad Tour Kiana plans to take to launch her research) and a wise, maternal woman named Portia, Kiana eventually uncovers the dramatic truths of her ancestry--and also discovers her true inheritance. What befalls the conniving, hapless Ida, and the relationship that develops between Kiana and Rex, gives the narrative a necessary pace and tension; some of the discussions of reparations (regaining what whites have taken from blacks during the long history of slavery) is confusedly ambivalent--Kiana seems at first an unequivocal advocate but later bemoans the ``personal expense'' required of the mission to reclaim. Bunkley continues to overwrite, but, still, this is her best work to date. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 28th, 1996
ISBN: 0-525-94009-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996


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