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An impressive episodic debut in which a pimp rolls unchecked through the streets of Oakland, California, effortlessly ruining lives and furthering a cycle of violence.

Angie grew up with her extremely religious grandparents after the death of her mother and father. In the opening pages, she explains that although she was just as devout as her grandparents, that didn't translate into model behavior. Sexually adventurous and eager for attention, 17-year-old Angie is easy pickings for the sharp-dressed man who comes strolling by her porch one day: “From his soft, clean, honey-colored face to the milky white of his teeth, this man caught ahold of my heart and yanked it straight through my body.” The second chapter is narrated by that man, a cold-blooded pimp named Jesus with a prosthetic arm who changes Angie’s name to Peaches, puts her out on the street, and eventually beats her to death in front of their eight-year-old son Jason. Years later, after Jason is released from the care of the state, he tells us he wants to follow in Jesus' footsteps and learn from his father all the tricks of the trade. The fourth narrator is Chinaka, a Black Panther who befriended Peaches and tried to woo her away from Jesus before her death. Saddened to see Jason on the streets emulating his father, she tries to do for Angie’s son what she couldn't do for his mother. Newcomer Morris may have gleaned her subject matter from knowledge gained at her day job, senior research associate with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, but she offers neither think-tank schematics nor social-worker panaceas. This is real fiction, related in prose that is always fresh, never mannered. The author switches voices, from Jesus' arrogant pimp-swagger to Peaches' tired honesty, without a hitch and maintains the thematic unity of action sprawling over two generations and several decades.

Refreshingly original, personal, and intimate.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-621105-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2001