This book was suggested to me by a professor (Preston Allen, author of the fine novel Hoochie Mama), whose opinion I respect very much; and thus, I continued reading even when I felt overwhelmed with emotion and was ultimately rewarded with a story that is really two stories. Mr. Banks is perhaps the finest writer I have ever read, his prose refined to the point of being almost too self-conscious. He is a master at making the reader FEEL for his characters. So I followed the main character from the Northeast to Miami, as he fled his boring life and found himself in more trouble than he knew was possible. That first story, surface story, works because of rich writing and some semblance of plot. As a Haitian American, I had a serious problem with the second main story (especially because of Banks' fine style), Claude and Vanise's story. I wept. It was fiction, but I wept. I remembered how I came here as a small boy. I remembered what happened to my mother, but I won't go into that. And I was angry because Mr. Banks is not Haitian. I kept waiting for him to get it wrong--there were some stereotypical things, but they were minor. This is the story I kept wishing someone would write. Both Haitians and Cubans see Miami as a haven from poverty and political oppression in their countries, but America usually sees only the Cubans as deserving of refuge. I am still a bit bothered that Banks is not Haitian, but for selfish reasons I wish every American would read this book. I number it among my favorites of all time.