A shopworn and rather preachy first novel from Golden (Migrations of the Heart, 1983) that charts the lives of three black women who first meet at an Ivy League college in the 60's. The story is told, in a revolving-door narration, mainly by Faith, Serena, and Crystal, all of whom meet at Winthrop University in Boston: Faith is the shy scholarship girl from New York, Crystal's a budding poet, and Serena is a free spirit from Detroit. Since at Winthrop there are only 38 black faces in a sea of white, the three soon become close friends, despite their differences (Faith is flunking out, Serena is hanging around with budding Black Panthers, and Crystal, unfortunately, is writing poetry: ""we are like/the stones we throw/unquenchable/as our people's thirst""). But Faith soon becomes pregnant (after a one-night stand, her first) and the old gang begins to change; Faith loses the baby, then joins the Black Muslims and eventually marries 47-year-old Rasheed; Crystal continues to write poetry which is at best mediocre (it's quoted throughout the novel) but becomes a success anyway and has a dynamic relationship with a white film-director named Neil (""His calls from LA are full of anguish and discovery""); Serena, always the adventurous one, severs her ties by going back to her roots, traveling through Africa working as a teacher and observing the reality of revolution and black rule. Naturally, they all keep in touch, best friends to the end. At the close, Rasheed has had a stoke and Faith is nursing him back to health; Crystal has wangled a grant to write a cycle of poems on women's heroes, and Serena is still serenely on the road. Laboring under the tired irony of the title, and under the author's droning pieties about women and blacks in America, this is set up--and comes off--like lackluster formula fiction.