A FAMILY AFFAIR by Marcus Major


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After two intervening novels, Major returns to the family of his literary debut, with lukewarm results.

Myles and Marisa Moore (Good Peoples, 2000) have been married four years now, and, despite the lack of offspring (only matriarch Peggy is concerned about that), they have a happy union and successful lives. Myles’s brother Amir and his wife Kenya are kept busy with their twin girls and work—he has a barbershop, she runs a home for troubled youths—and family friends Jackie and Carlos have a new baby to dote on. With everything going right, no one seems to notice the slow disintegration of the elder Moores’ marriage. Though together for nearly 40 years and working side-by-side for almost that long (Lenny’s barbershop and Peggy’s salon share a building), the rift between them seems irrevocable. Peggy secretly suspects that Lenny is cheating on her—and Amir and Carlos have proof. Lenny is indeed having an affair, with gold-digging Stacy, but little more than rooster randiness is given as explanation for the betrayal. Peggy’s sadness and frustration are nicely depicted, making her all the more sympathetic when she throws her cheating husband out (she eavesdrops on a ribald phone conversation between Lenny and his mistress). Incorporated is a subplot of Peggy’s young niece Jasmine, living with the Moores while her mother is in jail. Jasmine, a typical surly teenager, meets Darius at the mall and romance blooms, though it becomes endangered when Kenya and Jackie find out that Darius, with a checkered past, has just been released from their group home. There’s a question whether Peggy will take Lenny back into her house and heart, but the story’s success lies less in its rudimentary plotting than in its easy conversations and believable people.

Less engaging than its predecessor, but with likable enough types to spend some time with.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2004
ISBN: 0-525-94768-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2003