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Babylon Sisters: A Novel Hardcover – March 29, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: One World/Ballantine; First Edition first Printing edition (March 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345456092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345456090
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,620,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Catherine "Cat" Sanderson has a pretty nice life: she likes her consulting business (Babylon Sisters) and her neighborhood (Atlanta's West End), and she's got lovely friends and an absolute peach of a daughter (Phoebe). But said nice life gets complicated when Phoebe takes dramatic steps to find out the identity of her father, which Cat has been lying about for years. Also causing headaches: the sudden, unrelated reappearance of Phoebe's actual father, B.J. (who never knew Phoebe existed and who was, for Cat, "the only operatic moment in my otherwise pretty routine life"), and Cat's new contract with African-American entrepreneur and battle-axe Ezola Mandeville, who runs an eponymous maid service that's highly praised for its generous support of its workers. Of course Sam Hall, Ezola's sexy right-hand man, confides, "We're not really here to... uplift the race. We're really here to make money." And how they're making that money is a lot worse than one would think. Cleage's (Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do) intelligent, lively narrative hits numerous notes—domestic drama, romance, thriller—right in tune. Agent, Denise Stinson. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Praise for Pearl Cleage and Babylon Sisters

“Pearl Cleage’s wonderful new novel, Babylon Sisters, shows a writer at the top of her game, managing to weave together the eternal dance of mothers and daughters, a timeless love story, rich friendships, and international politics into a fast-paced Atlanta saga with an unforgettable villain and a thrilling climax that leave us cheering. Pearl has once again given us a book filled with folks who are so real, we think we know them, or wish we did.”
–e. lynn harris, author of Since I Lost My Baby

“Babylon Sisters’ funny, feminine, fabulous voice sings a story of history, family, love and redemption. Cleage’s ability to make the personal political and the political personal triumphs once again! Nestled in this beautifully written ode to love–of child, friends, men, and self –is a call to political activism and empowerment.”
–Jill Nelson, author of Sexual Healing

“You’ll love this savvy love story in which Pearl Cleage returns to Atlanta and the West End community and nails it! Cleage knows her city. She knows her community. She knows her people. Pearl Cleage knows her stuff!”
–Tina McElroy Ansa, author of You Know Better and The Hand I Fan With

“Babylon Sisters is a delectable feast! Pearl Cleage’s people are my people. Their world of problems is complex and radiant, covering a wide spectrum of contemporary political and cultural issues. Cleage writes with the intelligence of a master storyteller and her underlying humor keeps our spirits high. Like flower petals swept into the sky by a warm wind, Babylon Sisters carried me away from all worries, reminding me that great writing changes your life.”
–Deborah Santana, author of Space Between the Stars

“Cleage writes with amazing grace and killer instinct.”
–The New York Times

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Customer Reviews

Covering some serious topics and sprinkle love in the mix.
Mahogany Book Club
If you don't get the title now, you'll understand it better as you read the book.
This book is easy reading that takes you on a roller-coaster ride.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. Henry on April 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Choir Boy compares well with classic books about teenagers that aren't necessarily for teenagers, like Bridge Over Terabithia or Carson McCullers' Member of the Wedding, and then goes way beyond. It's a fast-moving and complicated story, lyrical and musically structured, scary, hilarious, and hopeful.

Everyone will read it to be "about" gender and queerness, and it is, but I hope people will also see another story, about the possibility of living in uncertainty. Berry and the other characters have outside influences pushing them into particular paths of identity or behavior, but none of them ultimately are locked in to those paths. Commitment to art, above all, is what puts Berry in conflict with society. I listened to cds of choir boys singing anthems while reading the book, and let the philosophical and religious questions percolate.

In short, there is no genre this book fits. It might be read by transgender teenagers as a sort of equivalent to the "difficult issue" young adult book, something that goes beyond Avi, or Betty Miles: books where a kid stands up for some issue like sex education or not saying the Pledge of Allegiance, without understanding that it's going to create a hell of a firestorm beyond their control. But the book's depths put it way beyond that Scholastic Paperback "emperor has no clothes" simplification of what it's like to be a kid, and far beyond the didactic messages of the usual coming-out memoir. Choir Boy is deeply respectful of kids. Reading it made me look back at my own teenage years and the choices I made, and re-evaluate the meaning of some of my own actions.

It's a fun book and a great story!
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kharabella on June 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sometimes it feels like it is SO HARD hard to find a good black book, with writing and characters that not only entertain you, but also make you proud. Finally, I found (another) one! If you remember any of her other works, especially my favorite, WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY ON AN ORDINARY DAY, then you already no that Pearl Cleage tells a compassionate, intelligent story. BABYLON SISTERS is no exception.

Babylon Sisters is the story of thirty-eight-year-old Catherine Sanderson, a strong black woman who's making a difference in this world. She's a woman who has dedicated her life to improving her community by working with immigrant women and helping them find jobs and housing in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. She has also raised a beautiful, intelligent daughter all on her own, and seventeen-year-old Phoebe Sanderson is finishing her senior year at a fancy, private boarding school and is all but headed to Smith College.

But Catherine's peaceful, organized life is due for a few interruptions. In order to pay for Phoebe's expensive college tuition, Catherine takes on a job with a new client - the reknowned, eccentric black millionaire named Miss Ezola Mandeville. (Emphasis on the "Miss.") But Miss Mandeville, who runs a house-keeping business, appears to be involved through an unsavory business partner in a forced-prostitution ring with immigrant women. Catherine can't figure out exactly what they're up to, or even whether Miss Mandeville is actually knows what her partner is doing to her well-reputed business.

At the same time, Phoebe has become ever more curious about the identity of her father, whom she has never met. In fact, BJ Johnson, the only man Catherine has ever loved, does not even know that he has a daughter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen E. Stratton on December 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Within the last year two titles have appeared that provide two very different approaches to discussion of the issue of transgender teenagers. Luna by Julie Anne Peters appeared in 2004 and was an Honor Book for the American Library Association GLBT Round Table's Stonewall Award in literature this past year. Luna is the brother of story's narrator, Regan. Regan's days and nights have revolved around Luna and now Regan is facing up to the fact that she has no life of her own and is becoming resentful.

Choir Boy takes completely different tact. Berry is thirteen years old and loves being in the choir at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. He loves the music and the atmosphere so much that he realizes he wants to remain a choirboy into adulthood. He does not want to change, to lose his magnificent voice after training for 8 years. So Berry does what any confused, scared, male might do in a comic setting. He gets himself to a clinic and quickly begins taking hormones and testosterone blockers. He just hadn't figured that breasts were part of the deal!

Choir Boy is a romp through a confused teenager's life. Berry's exploration, accidental or otherwise, of gender issues is laughingly real. Living half his life in the choir and the other half hiding in his room from his parents, Berry is, to say the least, naïve. Berry stumbles through life seemingly unawares of the steps he is taking until he completes them. It is a state of confusion and uncertainty that I remember well as a teenager, and I am sure exists today for many young adults. The book contains some basic exploratory sex scenes though nothing that hasn't been written about in other teen books.
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