BROTHERS AND SISTERS by Bebe Moore Campbell


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 With this daring and insightful novel Campbell requites the unfulfilled promise of her first book, Your Blues Ain't Like Mine (1992). The setting is Los Angeles in the weeks and months following the Rodney King verdict and the ensuing riots. Esther, operations manager of Angel City National Bank, is a token black in middle management at an institution blind to its own racism. Mallory is a white woman in a lending position that Esther aspires to. When the bank president hires a black supervisor, Humphrey Boone, the atmosphere changes: Some whites get demoted, some minorities have a chance to rise. In this newly open atmosphere, Esther and Mallory become friends. Their relationship begins with a shared experience of sexual harassment and almost ends when Mallory is coerced into bringing about Humphrey's downfall. Both women have growing to do. Mallory has not ``done her work'' (confronted her racism), but Esther educates her. Esther's motto is ``no romance without finance'' (she won't date anyone who doesn't make twice what she does), but blue-collar Tyrone manages to overcome her classism. Campbell's LA is an oppressive jungle in which life-threatening violence can erupt anytime, anywhere, from cops or gangbangers. In this world any tender moment is precious, whether it's a laugh shared with a co-worker, an exchange of ethnic food at lunchtime, or dancing all night with the man you love...even if his English isn't perfect. Campbell's in-depth treatment of two women's friendship across the color bar is both guide and challenge. What might have been a slick set of taps on America's guilt buttons turns instead into a well-knit collection of morality tales for the 21st century. (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Essence; Book-of-the-Month Club main selection; Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selection; $150,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1994
ISBN: 0-399-13929-X
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1994


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