A charming tale about a reporter deciding what she wants from life.

BLACK GIRLS MUST DIE EXHAUSTED

A NOVEL FOR GROWN UPS

A debut novel tells the story of a black woman with a demanding schedule trying to cope with some dire medical news.

“Black girls, they sure must die exhausted,” Tabitha Walker’s grandmother tells her. Her grandmother, who is white, is making an observation, but it’s a phrase that Tabitha, a 33-year-old black woman, knows to be true. She has her hands full as it is: a job as a news reporter in Los Angeles, a serious boyfriend, and saving for a down payment on a house. Then her physician gives her some information that makes things even tenser. “Premature Ovarian Reserve Failure. Gotta love that kind of name, right?” Tabitha thinks. “Rather than a much more friendly ‘disorder,’ the word ‘failure’ is already wrapped right in.” The irony? The condition is caused by stress. Her busy life isn’t even the start of the strain of being a black woman in America (as the fact that she gets pulled over by a cop after leaving the doctor’s office illustrates). Now, in order for Tabitha to have the family she’s always hoped for, she’ll need to find a way to make life less traumatic without sacrificing her career, boyfriend, or nest egg. Luckily, she has her two best friends, Laila and Alexis, to help her out along with her wise Granny Tab. Can Tabitha figure out a way to wrest control over her hectic routine and get her body to chill out enough for her to have it all? Or will she collapse under the pressure, utterly exhausted? Allen writes in a sharp, lively voice that is full of warmth and humor: “ ‘You out here trying to have an NBA baby!’ Laila shouted over the champagne flute at her lips at our Sunday late afternoon brunch table, cracking herself up at me and my indiscretions of the previous night.” Tabitha and her friends are well-drawn, and it is the dynamic between the protagonist and the women in her life that propels the story. Touching on issues of professional womanhood, race, and family, the author crafts a novel that is both timely and enjoyable.

A charming tale about a reporter deciding what she wants from life.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73269-681-5

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Quality Black Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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