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McLarin (Taming It Down, 1998) takes on intermarriage, that third rail of race relations, in a love story that frankly if a tad didactically details the obstacles a white journalist and his African-American colleague confront after they fall in love.

When Lenora Page rescues fellow reporter Porter Stockman from an assailant during the riots they’re covering for their respective papers following the beating of Rodney King, he’s not only grateful but also attracted. Back in Philadelphia, Porter still thinks of Lenora and is delighted when she appears in the newsroom as a potential recruit. Born and raised in Baltimore, Lenora holds whites in low regard and blames them for the problems that continue to plague the African-American community. She tries to patronize only black-owned businesses, and she dates only black men. Her adored father left home when Lenora was seven, and her mother Eda later suffered manic spells, which made teenaged Lenora feel even more responsible for her kin. Porter has family problems too: his passive father drinks too much, and his mother is an embittered snob. These two highly regarded reporters admire each other’s work, but love is another matter. While Porter is soon totally smitten, Lenora is wary until they go to Florida to cover Hurricane Andrew. She begins to see Porter in a new light: he’s funny, sensitive, and prepared to admit his ignorance. The colleagues are soon lovers, but as the affair intensifies, they have to deal with the reactions of family and friends. When Porter proposes, then gets cold feet, both have to resolve lingering doubts and fears that are not the usual freight of love.

Good, provocative stuff here, especially the realistic dialogue between the lovers, but it often seems more like a legal argument than a tale of two people prepared to defy the world.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-688-16905-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2001


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