THE NIGHT BEFORE THIRTY by Tajuana “TJ” Butler

THE NIGHT BEFORE THIRTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Five near-30 women win a contest and come together for a celebration of shopping and sisterhood.

Butler (Hand-Me-Down Heartache, 2001) continues her assault on the English language with another story straddling the line between modern genre romance and words splashed randomly on the page. In this world of uppity African-American women hugely successful despite adolescent mindsets, the only real problem is that everyone keeps falling for the wrong man—partly because all men are wrong. We first meet the women individually: Catara is voluptuous, not fat, but it still hurts when her date turns out to be a sophisticated ploy for a loan; Alecia is beautiful and knows it, but when she’s attracted to William, she has to remind herself, “Wait a minute. I am the shit. He’s the one who should be excited”; Tanya knows how to please her drug-dealing beau, “the kind of nigga that didn’t take no shit, but she could tell he had a gentle side”; Elise is worried about her attraction to a coworker; and when Lawshanda’s boss hits on her with a cheesy line about kissing her in all the right places, Lawshanda thinks, “She did deserve those things, and she longed for them.” Before the women all win their radio contest and head for the tropics, we’ll deal with ex-wives, drive-bys, and muggings—but then it’ll be all shopping, cruises, and loads of confessional bonding. Butler aims low and even then fails to hit her mark in an effort cumbered throughout by writing as clumsy as her concepts are simple.

Marketing campaign aside, this is about as bad as it gets.

Pub Date: May 20th, 2003
ISBN: 1-4000-6020-6
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2003