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 phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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