WILHEMINA JONES, FUTURE STAR by Dindga McCannon

WILHEMINA JONES, FUTURE STAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Willi Jones could be a slightly older Peaches (1974)--and, one suspects, a younger Dindga McCannon. At any rate all three grew up in Harlem determined to be artists, and here Willi, 16 when we meet her in 1964, spends her earnings on art supplies and dreams of becoming 18 so she can move into her own hassle-free apartment with a room for painting. When she's not drawing pictures, or at last, exhibiting with other real and friendly artists at a Harlem clothesline art show, Willi is writing to boyfriend Skeeter in Vietnam, asserting a dawning black consciousness, or fighting with her strict, repressive mother who hates Willi's new natural hairdo and won't let her date or study art. Skeeter returns in time for the two to move in together on Willi's 18th birthday--her mother has virtually imprisoned her until that legal day--and a postscript notes that they were married six months later and divorced after seven years. McCannon has little talent for dialogue--the conversation here is alternately stiff and expository or bogged down in the trivia of restaurant orders and such--and Willi's description of her drawings as unpolished efforts could apply to the writing as well. But there is a ringing authenticity behind it, and there is no doubt that McCannon is well acquainted with both her first-person heroine and her 1960s Harlem milieu. And, as in Peaches, Willi's sense of self and of purpose are heartening.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1980
Publisher: Delacorte