I’M TELLING by Karen E. Quinones Miller


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Another story of tensions among the black bourgeoisie: here, aspirations are complicated by family history when a successful twin tries to help her addicted sister—but nearly loses her own man.

Graphic in language and raunchy in tone, Miller’s second (after the originally self-published Satin Doll, 2001) about good sister Faith, who tries to help bad sister Hope, is as much about the never-ending obligations of a dysfunctional family as about a woman with a loving heart. Faith, a literary agent, can still remember seeing her 11-year-old twin sister being abused by Papa, the girls' stepfather. Her mother had married Papa after being widowed with four small children to raise. And mother, Miss Irene, would never hear anything bad about Papa. He eventually moved out but not before trying to rape the 15-year-old Faith, who slashed his wrist open and then ran away. She met high-school senior Henry, who took her home and gave her a bed. Later, the two moved in together while he paid for her to attend college. As the story opens, they’re still together. While at school, Henry sold cocaine to support the family but now is a successful businessman. As Faith deals with an overweight and overstressed Miss Irene and her crack-taking tenants, she tries to convince Hope, who also takes drugs, shoplifts, and does tricks, that she should get help, but Hope wants no talk about the past. When Miss Irene accuses Hope of stealing her boyfriend, Faith lets Hope move in with her and Henry on the condition she gets a job and counseling. Hope, however, continues to be as self-destructive as ever. And poor Faith, who tries to help Miss Irene as well, soon has a major crisis on her hands.

Not as strong a story as Satin Doll, but an affecting if static portrait of family ties.

Pub Date: July 23rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-7432-1435-8
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2002


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