FAMILY TIES by Ernest Hill


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A novel that focuses primarily on African-American experiences, but Hill provides a universal—and didactic—moral point as he revisits characters from his previous fiction.                                   

D’Ray Reid, out of prison for having killed a young man, seems to have turned his life around, but when he finds out his brother Curtis has escaped from jail, D’Ray tries to reunite with his family and restore justice. In the social world Hill (A Person of Interest, 2006, etc.) creates, there’s plenty of family, as well as plenty of family tension, to go around. D’Ray’s mother Mira is in an adulterous relationship with Sonny while her husband is in Angola prison, and she holds D’Ray responsible for not having kept a sufficiently hawklike eye on Curtis, so she’s angry when D’Ray shows up hoping for reconciliation. When D’Ray (aka Outlaw) finds out that Curtis (aka Little Man) has escaped, he feels justice will best be served by persuading him to go back into custody and prove his innocence, for Curtis avows he’s been framed. The chief of police, who helped put Curtis in jail in the first place, has other ideas, however, and puts out an APB that sanctions violence if Curtis is found. Mira is immediately at odds with D’Ray, for she’s convinced it’s better for Curtis to die rather than join his father in Angola. The family moral adviser is Reverend Jacobs, who tries to mitigate Mira’s anger and alienation from D’Ray as well as get to the truth about Curtis’s supposedly criminal activities. Providing varying degrees of help are Peaches, D’Ray’s lover, and Reggie, a drug addict whose life Curtis had tried to turn around. In Hill’s moral universe there’s a sharp, almost allegorical break between those who are corrupt and those trying to see justice done. In the end everything turns out well and rather predictably, as a deus ex machina sheriff makes sure evil is punished.  

Quasi-gritty but nothing too surprising.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7582-1314-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Dafina/Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2010


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