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An engaging novel of hard times and second chances set in Houston’s African-American community.

Alternately narrated by Bodie, Ike and Amelia, the novel opens with the three doing hard time of a sort: Bodie is in prison for a murder he didn’t commit (thus protecting guilty friends); Ike is Bodie’s prison guard, shackled at home to a shrewish girlfriend; and Amelia, Bodie’s girlfriend on the outside, is scraping by waitressing, her dreams of stardom dashed. A few years earlier, Bodie was living the gangster life while managing Amelia’s burgeoning singing career. But just as she is about to audition for the TV show American Icon, she sees Bodie on the news, running from cops; he’s ultimately charged with murder. Amelia’s best friend, Natalia, eventually won the Icon competition and the accompanying fame, while Amelia gave up singing altogether. Helping out her sick cousin Me-Me one night, Amelia sings her set at the Lullaby Club, and her passion and determination are rekindled. On that night, she meets Ike, fresh from a mayor’s dinner, where he caught his girlfriend and her boss in the men’s room. Ike and Amelia share an immediate connection, and he just can’t figure out where he’s seen her before. But then it hits him—every time he enters Bodie’s cell for a contraband search, he sees her pretty face in a picture pinned to the wall. Bodie, though no angel, is an innocent man and is doing his time the only way he knows how, by keeping palms greased on the inside and his woman watched on the outside. Though Bodie has some power in prison, it doesn’t keep him safe from CO Arnold. She terrorizes all the corrections officers beneath her, especially Ike, and sexually assaults the prisoners when they’re in solitary confinement. As Amelia gets closer to realizing her dream and she and Ike begin building a loving relationship, Bodie, who’s discovered their romance, moves in for a brutal, final revenge.

A gritty depiction of prison life, a few sweaty sex scenes and a cast of well-drawn characters converge in this drama of damaged lives.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-451-21954-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: NAL/Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2006