In this novel, three African-American childhood friends try to reconnect many years later, with varying success.
In 1992, Camille Warren, a woman in her mid-40s, is feeling lonely, so she decides to get in touch with her two old Brooklyn friends Jewel Jamison and Saundra Farrell. Looking back on this reunion 20 years later in 2012, Camille remarks that “Time took us in different directions….Things were said that couldn’t be unsaid.” The book examines what went wrong, moving back and forth between the 1992 events and the trio’s earlier lives, tracing how they met, became friends, and then drifted apart after college. All have painful memories of childhood; Camille, for example, grew up with her grandmother because her mother was in jail for killing her father while driving drunk, and Saundra was sexually abused by a neighbor. The three girls went to college in the 1960s, experiencing the era’s growing political consciousness as well as new freedoms and challenges. By the time of the 1992 reunion brunch, Camille has become an assistant principal in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and a devoted single mother; Jewel has founded a prosperous entertainment agency; and Saundra is getting back on her feet after divorcing a violent man. Camille has a new romantic possibility, Coleman Barnes, a Marine recruiter, while Saundra makes an unexpected reconnection with Les, a white musician whom she’d dated in college. As for Jewel, she’s planning a June wedding, although the groom—who’s still married—doesn’t know this. Friedman (Ian’s Pet, 1991, etc.) writes a multilayered account of these three women’s lives that pays close attention to setting, character development, and history. Camille is particularly well-drawn, as when she’s shown to be thoughtfully indecisive about her relationship with Coleman. Engaging reflections on issues of race, such as interracial dating, give the novel a strong social underpinning. That said, it’s unfortunate that the novel seems to link Jewel’s growing paranoia, delusion, and sexual harassment of young men to her ambition—in contrast to Camille, who turns down a promotion in order to spend more time with her son.
A solid historical novel with engaging characters.