BITTERSWEET by III Johnson

BITTERSWEET

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Three brothers, three very different lives.

Henpecked husband and have-it-all buppie Clifford Matthews is traveling home to Pittsburgh from Disney World with Demetria and their two young sons when Demetria announces that she wants a divorce. Clifford is too stunned to do much more than gape—and remember that his younger brother Victor always said Demetria took advantage of him. Victor, the most streetwise of the three, has problems of his own. Lynette, the mother of his baby daughter Jewel, rarely lets him see the child—even though he caught Lynette having sex with her new lover right in front of the baby. Victor, a champion booty-chaser with nothing much else goin’ on, rails against a family court system he thinks is rigged against black fathers, and he warns that Clifford is about to get royally screwed. Nathan, brother three and a priggish minister, counsels patience and prayer, even though he knows he’s spending too much time with a troubled (and luscious) church sister who has marital problems of her own. Nathan practically worships his own wife Brenda—which doesn’t keep him from one-on-one counseling sessions with Beverly, who’s coming on strong. Eventually, Demetria kicks Clifford out, and Clifford takes Victor’s advice and consults a lawyer: strong-minded Alojuwa Bell. More than anything, he doesn’t want his boys to grow up fatherless the way he did. Alojuwa does what she can, but not before she lets him know how much a custody fight will hurt his kids. Then Clifford hears from Brenda that his brother Nathan has strayed from the path of righteousness. At least Clifford knows he’s doing the right thing. Divorcing Demetria may be an expensive humiliation, but it’s what she wants, and his sons will be sure of his love.

A first novel that’s anything but fresh, its points of view exclusively male and for the most part seemingly misogynistic.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2002
ISBN: 0-345-44596-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2001