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32 Candles: A Novel Hardcover – June 22, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 337 customer reviews

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Deliver Her: A Novel
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This debut novel of longing for family, love, and acceptance finds some interesting territory before settling too early into inevitability. Davidia Jones, a nerdy child of poverty, is abused by her alcoholic mother and despicable father and is the subject of merciless taunting at her high school. But it's the "Molly Ringwald Ending" that guides this fragile 15-year-old when she bolts town with a lesbian trucker named Mama Jane and lands a gig as a '40s-style chanteuse in L.A. With a little Hollywood stardust, she redefines herself and begins living the life she's dreamed of--until James, the rich golden boy she had a crush on back home, walks into her nightclub. Not knowing their connected past, James promptly goes gaga for the overhauled Davie, whose need for sweet revenge adds a welcome dark edge to an otherwise predictable trajectory toward self-empowerment. New Agey embellishments (an "atonement list") seem like a misstep for a spirited heroine stuck in a middling narrative.
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Carter’s captivating debut follows Davie Jones, an African American girl growing up in the 1980s in the small town of Glass, Mississippi. Scorned by her mother and classmates, Davie eventually stops speaking and takes refuge in the movies of Molly Ringwald, which promise happy endings for even the most downtrodden social outcast. Davie finds her dream guy in hunky James Farrell, a high-school football star who moves to Glass with his wealthy family. But her dreams are dashed when she incurs the ire of James’ cruel sister, Veronica, after Veronica catches her father visiting Davie’s promiscuous mother. Veronica then plays a mean prank that sends Davie running away from Glass for good, all the way to Los Angeles. There she finds her voice, both literally and figuratively, earning a living as a lounge singer. Davie is content with her life until James crashes back into it, causing demons from her past to bubble to the surface. With all the charm of a clever romantic comedy and peopled by appealing, memorable characters, Carter’s first novel is a winner on all fronts. --Kristine Huntley
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061957844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061957840
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By cmp VINE VOICE on April 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I truly enjoyed this book. I have next to nothing in common with the main character - except that I love Sixteen Candles - but I didn't feel left out, or that I didn't know what she meant or why she did the things she did. The author has a knack of making even the "crazies" very sympathetic. The characters are flawed, but not in an unappealing way.

The writing was nice and tight. I didn't run across any errors or choices that made me cringe, which is always nice. This was a quick read for me. I started and finished in one evening, but I also didn't want to put it down until it was done, which is a great sign.

The book is divided mostly into "Then" and "Now" sections, with some others along the way, and the first "Then" section was maybe a little slow to get going. We needed the background to understand what happened later, but it was the slowest-moving part of the book for me. Otherwise, the pacing was good and I didn't mind the jumping around in time. Sometimes in novels it's jarring, but this made sense and was well done.

I'd recommend this to fans of slightly more serious chick lit. It's funny in many ways, but can also be saddder than more humorous offerings like those from Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella.

Fans of the movie Sixteen Candles would also enjoy this book. ;) In fact, I think it would help to be up on your John Hughes canon, or you'll be missing something.
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Format: Hardcover
African American Davidia Jones grows up on Glass, Mississippi with a mother who does nothing for her. By the time she is six she knows the smell of an alcoholic and the noise of sex. The only thing good about being especially dark skinned is that the bruises don't readily show. As a young teen, already a victim of neglect and abuse, Davie assumes she is ugly; enhanced by the cruel comments at school where she is called Monkey Night. Her unrequited attraction to the top jock James Farrell augments her feelings of the ugliest non in Mississippi.

In 1984, fifteen years old Davie sees Sixteen Candles in the only theater in town. She cries about the ending in which a loser wins and decides to leave Glass. Davie gets a ride out of town with a long haul truck driver. In Los Angeles, Davie obtains work as a 1940s chanteuse as she reinvents herself. All is great until James arrives at the club where she performs. He fails to recognize the thirtyish Davie, which hurts her, but he clearly wants her. Davie seeks revenge for her mistreatment in Glass so she hides who she was and plans to break his heart. She failed to calculate either falling in love again or Mississippi mud returning to destroy her chance for that Molly Ringwald ending.

This is an entertaining at times intense look at an abused bullied child as a thirty something adult. Davie is terrific holding the tale together with her prime desires fighting one another since James reentered her life; though in some ways for the first time as their high school spheres were as far apart as the sun (him) and relegated Pluto (her). Although the story line has no major twists, readers will enjoy 32 Candles rooting for Davie.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This was a great read, from a new writer w/ a unique voice. The main character 'Monkey Night' as her tormentors in high school so lovingly called her, was one that you feel compassion for. Her ups and downs are chronicled via flashbacks and current times, and all the while you find yourself so engaged it was hard to let her go when the book came to an end. The whole 'Sixteen Candles' homage should be corny, but for anyone who ever dreamed of their 'Jake Ryan'; it really hit home. Can't wait for her next novel!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This one was tough to put down. I enjoyed the journey and did the ugly cry when I got to the end of the book. The characters were described and developed well along with their relationships. I kept picturing Nicky as Kevin Hart although he was described as a large guy. This is one of those books that I'll have to give myself some time before reading something else, because it's hard to move on from the characters and events in this novel. Every once in a while, a book like that comes along for me and obviously gets added to my list of favorites. Thanks for this entertaining and captivating journey. I really would be first in line if this made it to the big screen.
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Format: Hardcover
Ernessa T. Carter's debut, 32 Candles, is a coming-of-age story that begins in Glass, MS and takes readers on a journey leading to Los Angeles, CA. Readers begin this journey with Davidia Jones, the intelligent ugly duckling whose mother, Cora, is mean and abusive - the person who is also the reason Davidia does not use her voice.

While reading this story, I was particularly enthralled with Davidia's strength in the face of adversity while in high school, staying focused on her grades and not caring about material things. The plot thickens as Davidia attempts to escape her past, her mom, and the cruel Farell sisters. She moves to L.A. and begins to use her voice. Things are not so cut and dry though. Davidia ends up a minor in the hands of an L.A. club owner, Nicky, and doesn't let go of her obsession with James Farrell. Themes that stood out for me while reading this selection were childhood safety, incest, abuse, parental influence, fame/fortune, greed, and the potential psychological effects of the same. The author also touches on atonement, righting wrongs.

Ms. Carter does a fantastic job with character development and the pace of the story was on point. I really liked the "In Between Then and Now" chapter. I didn't know Davie had it in her! I was happy with how things turned out, but sad the story ended. I will definitely read future offerings from Ms. Carter.

Review by Tavares S. Carney
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