Miami and its Cuban elite deserve better than two-dimensional characters with bad taste in expensive clothes, cars, and home...



After five mysteries, Garcia-Aguilera (Bitter Sugar, 2001, etc.) offers a tawdry romantic comedy about family and adultery among the upper echelons of Miami’s expatriate Cuban community.

Margarita enters the last two months of a yearlong leave from the law firm where she’s already a partner knowing she must decide soon whether to return to her career as an immigration lawyer or buckle to her family’s pressure and remain a full-time wife and mother. The problem is that all the actual cooking and housework, as well as most of the care of Margarita’s three-year-old son, is in the hands of hired help, so that Margarita has way too much time on her hands—one reason that she’s vulnerable when she gets a call from her old law school boyfriend Luther, a tall, blond, blue eyed Wasp who never breaks a sweat (except when the sex is really good). After their three-year romance at Duke, Margarita had returned to her upper-class Cuban community while Luther ended up in New York. Their long-distance relationship fizzled and Margarita ended up marrying Ariel. From a more humble Cuban background and with more liberal political views, Ariel, also a lawyer, won acceptance from Margarita’s very traditional family only after his profitable victory in a headline-making personal injury case. Margarita loves him and considers herself a devout Catholic with a strong sense of her Cuban roots (at least twice she wishes Castro dead). But after one short lunch with Luther, she’s swept off her feet, and a passionate affair begins. Soon Luther asks her to leave Ariel and marry him. Then Margarita discovers that, thanks to collusion between Ariel and her mother, she’s pregnant. And either man could be the father.

Miami and its Cuban elite deserve better than two-dimensional characters with bad taste in expensive clothes, cars, and home decor.

Pub Date: June 18, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-000980-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Rayo/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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