Few novels of 200-plus pages get thinner than this one. Recent college graduate Nina Lander, Butler’s latest heroine (Sorority Sisters, etc., not reviewed), moves back home to her dysfunctional family in Atlanta as she begins both a broadcasting career and a relationship with Maurice, a rookie basketball player who, to the delight of everyone around him, refers to himself in the third person. Nina learns just how dysfunctional her family is even as she seems to repeat their failure-pattern with Maurice. She is almost saved by LJ Love, a now-successful rapper who has loved Nina since high school, but Nina, of course, is doomed to repeat age-old errors, betraying both LJ and herself in the process. Mom dies, Dad’s still a jerk, but LJ forgives Nina once she’s come to her senses and landed a job with ESPN Sportscenter—and everyone’s happy but us. Nina’s character, despite her broadcasting career and degree in sociology, is prepubescent at best, controlled by a narrative intelligence that seems neither smarter nor wiser than she does. Her own words suggest content and tone. “I dropped the nice-girlfriend role and called on my sistah-girl ’tude,” she explains. And: “It’s amazing how it sometimes takes a word from someone on the outside of a situation to wake an individual from sleepwalking and see things from another perspective.” And “The change in my mother’s condition that the doctors warned me of finally came.”
Attitude and air.