THE MUSIC OF SUMMER by Rosa Guy

THE MUSIC OF SUMMER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The politics of skin color in the black community: Brilliant Sarah, one year into Juilliard, is trying to mend her long friendship with blue-eyed Cathy; but Cathy, now involved with a group of lighter-skinned friends and jealous of Sarah's talents, adamantly rejects her. Still, when Cathy's mother, Clarice, invites Sarah to Cape Cod for a summer vacation, Sarah accepts despite her own mother's anger at Clarice's and Cathy's betrayal of their relationship. Cathy's grandmother--who inherited her elegant Cape Cod home from Quaker friends--takes Sarah under her wing, but Cathy and her friends continue, viciously, to ostracize her. Meanwhile, charismatic Martinican Madame Armand and her handsome son Jean Pierre, whose business usually keeps him in Africa, join the house party. When Cathy's friends literally try to drown Sarah, Jean Pierre is just in time to rescue her; their growing attraction is explicitly consummated, but Sarah elects Juilliard rather than marriage. A flawed--and very uneven--book, beginning with amateurishly lengthy explanations and burdened with stilted writing; Cathy's jealousy is so overdrawn that Sarah's continuing affection for her is not credible--nor is Sarah's apparent lack of friends at Juilliard. Even the potential message about self-realization is subverted: Sarah's final decision is based on family loyalty, not love for her music. Still, Sarah herself is appealing and her antagonists' rage chillingly believable, while the overriding motif--that a caste system based on skin is tragically destructive--is vital and compelling. Significantly, Sarah is reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (1970), a more trenchant exploration of the same theme.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Delacorte