AND DO REMEMBER ME

The author of Long Distance Life (1989), plus other novels dealing with the various odysseys of black women, here centers on a successful actress, a victim of childhood rape, as she struggles to love and endure. Jessie Foster runs away from her Mississippi home and away from the man she's just almost killed—her father. He's repeatedly raped her ever since she was 12, which was also when her ill, silent mother retreated to her bedroom. Activist/writer Lincoln Sturgis picks up Jessie as she stands by the blazing highway, and from there she joins the ``movement people'' at the height of the marches, sit-ins, jailings, and dangerous confrontations of the Civil Rights revolution. Lincoln is a good, kind man, yet when they make love, Jessie is compelled to relive her father's rape in his sick house of secrets. But in spite of the daily peril and a stay in jail, Jessie not only finds her skill and drive as an actress, but she also makes a friend for life—college-educated Macon, married to a professor. Both Jessie and Macon leave the South (and an era). In New York, Jessie changes her name to Pearl Moon and lives with would-be playwright Lincoln. Increasingly, though, there are Pearl's drinking bouts and then another terrible rape, as well as the loss of Lincoln. Macon is also a victim—of callousness and rejection—but she is there for Pearl/Jessie at the long-awaited death of her father. Back in Mississippi, Jessie at last hears the tale of another victim, the one she'd thought had betrayed her—her mother. Now Jessie ``was still lost. But she had found her way home.'' Color this purple with rage at those men who, however driven, rob women of their ability to love and connect, to quash demons within: ``most times [the rape] lay ticking, synchronized and lethal....'' Strong stuff—unsubtle and sharp as an axe blow.

Pub Date: July 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-41506-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more