GRACE by Elizabeth Nunez


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Love grows cold during a Brooklyn winter, in an equally chilly tale from Nunez.

College professor Justin Peters, Trinidian-born, suspects his wife Sally is cheating on him—or will be as soon as she gets a chance, though he has nothing to go on besides Sally’s evident unhappiness. They live well enough, with their young daughter Giselle, yet Sally, who grew up in Harlem, longs for the freedom of her youth, when she was a brilliant student at Hunter High School in Manhattan and then at Howard University, writing passionate poetry, expected to do great things. Now that life has dwindled down to teaching elementary school and caring for Giselle. Sally frets that she has nothing useful to do. Her life seems meaningless, especially compared to that of her father, a courageous doctor murdered by a racist mob down south. Her brother Tony, then seven, witnessed the killing and grew up a drug addict. Her mother ended up in a mental institution And sometimes Sally isn’t sure she herself is all that together. Justin doesn’t quite understand, but he’s beset with midlife worries of his own. What if Sally does leave him? He vows silently that he’ll never let her take their daughter, though his Trinidadian mother has told him that a child needs a mother more than a father. He still feels like a black man in a white man’s world, despite his Harvard education and impeccable reputation in the academic community. He does his damnedest to convey his own passion for classic European literature to a multicultural student body that thinks of these authors as Old Dead White Men with nothing to say. A departmental scandal is brewing: a hard-line feminist professor’s clandestine affair with a female student. This only adds to Justin’s concern: Perhaps Sally will fall in love with a woman, not a man. Long talks follow; nothing much changes.

Muted, somewhat anemic, minus the florid excesses of Nunez’s previous four (Discretion, 2001, etc.).

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-345-45533-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2002


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