THE BRIDGES OF SUMMER by Brenda Seabrooke


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A sophisticated young New Yorker returns unwillingly to her roots when her mother sends her for a summer with her grandmother Quanimina, who lives the traditional life of the Gullah off the Carolina coast. At home, ""Zarah"" (Sarah Jane)--gifted dancer, aspiring actor, and scholarship student--is about to enter the High School for the Performing Arts; with Quanimina, she's a rebel who ""shames"" her grandmother by wearing gaudy ornaments in her hair and making friends with Benicia, visiting granddaughter of an equally traditional white woman nearby. When Benicia invites Zarah to a party, Quanimina insists that Zarah act as a servant, as Benicia's grandmother has requested; Zarah plays the role to the hilt and then entertains the guests as her true self in a flamboyant dance, transforming her humiliation into triumph. Then, just as she and Quanimina are on the verge of understanding how each has ""shamed"" the other, Quanimina dies. Seabrooke (Judy Scuppernong, 1990) takes on a lot here and handles it with some skill. Spirited and likable, Zarah is a believable product of her complicated past, though some of the clues to it are a little late in coming. The conclusion--in another virtuoso acting performance, Zarah consummates the sale of Quanimina's island after her death (illegal but not immoral, since she's an heir)--is satisfyingly dramatic, though it does stretch credulity. Best of all, past and present mores are contrasted in an absorbing story where both are presented with acumen and sympathy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Cobblehill/Dutton