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RISING by Darnella Ford


by Darnella Ford

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-30306-8
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Engaging if ultimately hyperbolic debut about a young ghetto girl’s horrendous childhood in the care of two rich white adoptive parents, and the slow peace she achieves years after.

A homegirl from Boston, Symone grew up in the Dorchester projects with her mother Dolores, a drug addict and prostitute who overdosed when Symone was nine. Blond-haired and blue-eyed, Symone is not your typical Dorchester girl: Her father was a white businessman whom Dolores picked up for a one-night stand and never laid eyes on again. So Symone, half-black and half-white, learns early on what it is like to move uncomfortably between two worlds. It gets worse. Not long after her arrival at the orphanage, a wealthy white couple adopts her and moves her to their estate in northern Michigan. There, Symone is raised in the lap of luxury with her two stepsisters, Audrey and Chandler. She’s also raped by her adoptive father Ridge, who likes to have sex with his wife Madeline in front of Symone as well. Eventually, Symone grows up and gets on, opening an art gallery and settling into a happy ménage à trois with boyfriend Teek and girlfriend Natalie. But Ridge is a tough one to get over—for one thing, he manipulates Symone and her sisters well into their adulthood with threats of disinheritance. The last straw is when he buys out Symone’s gallery partner and begins to take over the business she worked so hard to build up. Her sisters, who have had their allowances cut off and are just as fed up, begin to talk murder, and it soon looks like more than idle fantasies on their part. Is Symone dumb enough to get dragged into crime? Well, let’s just say that she learns something about her relationship to her adoptive father that might push anyone over the edge.

Well-written line by line, but, overall, it adds up to something less than the sum of its parts: the story becomes outlandish, the characters are flat, and the great revelation is obvious from the start.