BLUE COLLAR BLUES by Rosalyn McMillan



McMillan (Knowing, 1996; One Better, 1997) sets her third novel smack in the middle of the American auto industry, but the Detroit environs and her fictional Champion company take a backseat to the anti-white rage that afflicts most of the characters. Title aside, the most prominent one here is the black (and very white-collar) Thyme Tyler, an Åber-successful plant manager at Detroit’s Champion Motors, with a Ph.D. and a husband who’s also a high-ranking Champion employee. The catch is, husband Cyrus is white, a fact that Thyme’s pals, especially her closest girlfriend, Khan Davis—a Champion blue-collar worker—can’t understand. Thyme hasn’t told Cyrus that she’s filing a discrimination suit against Champion (they’ve passed her over for countless promotions), which makes Khan angry; she worries that Thyme is denying herself to appease her white husband. But Khan has problems of her own. She learns from the newspaper that her fiancÇ, a millionaire who owns several Champion dealerships, has married another woman during a routine, two-week business trip. Thyme and Khan rely on each other throughout this difficult time, but their relationship seems destined to be tested. When Khan’s cousin Valentino, who also works at Champion, shoots and kills another plant worker who’s been harassing him because she’s jealous of all the overtime he’s been getting, Khan has to decide who to side with: her best friend, who makes the crucial overtime decisions and lives in a sheltered, white-collar world, or her own “blood”? As for Thyme, the death and subsequent mounting tension at work—for which she does feel responsible—take on new meaning when she learns that Cyrus has been lying to her about a lot of things, professional and personal. McMillan seems unwilling to do much more than skim the surface here. But while the language is zingy and the pacing good, too many characters conform to stereotype. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1998
ISBN: 0-446-52243-0
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1998


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