From the author of Crossover (1992), a competent if heavy-handed celebration of family: a melodramatic second novel that tries to be jazzy in style but often stumbles into jivey shorthand, a clichÃ¢d vocabulary more suited to Afro-American sitcoms than fiction. Williams opens daringly enough, with a story written by one of his characters--a nostalgic misadventure by two brothers that clearly prefigures the struggles in the novel. Quincy and Elliott Crawford live with their war-widowed mom in Boston, where she eventually marries the hard-working Derek Davis, a social worker born in Barbados, who has little use for ""the white man"" and causes a family crisis when he proposes adopting the boys. While Quincy leaves home at 16 rather than change his last name, the younger Elliott submits to Davis's regime--which means, among other things, being shaped into a basketball star, though his pro career chances are ruined by a college injury. Meantime, Quincy graduates from Columbia and begins his career as a teacher, writer, and Casanova. Back in Boston, their half-sister Delphine gets caught up in the school-busing crisis that convulsed that city in the mid-'70s, and her prom night develops into an event that defines the family bond. During the prom, several white students attempt to rape Delphine, and her family (even the long-estranged Quincy) comes to her side. The hardwon reconciliation helps them all decide how to lead their lives in the future, which includes accepting various responsibilities for others, blood relatives or not. Quincy's dramatic death in the penultimate chapter overstates his own shift in character, carrying him from irresponsible stud to savior of a little boy. Williams clearly hopes to develop a counter-image to media tales of parentless predators and shiftless black men, and in that regard he's done well. Solid, if somewhat humorless, work.