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Grace: A Novel Paperback – February 28, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nunez's latest (after Discretion) is a perceptive and moving tale of an African-American middle-class marriage struggling to right itself amid tremors of self-discovery. Both Justin Peters, a professor of literature at a college in Brooklyn, and his wife, Sally, a primary school teacher, have sacrificed a great deal in making their way in white America. Justin, a Trinidadian Harvard graduate, adheres fiercely to the "Dead White Men" of the classical canon, despite his college's party line of Afrocentricity. Sally, whose father was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, abandoned her ambitions to be a poet after the violent death of her former lover. Yet their comfortable life with their four-year-old daughter, Giselle, is not enough for Sally, who informs Justin that she needs "space" and moves in with her best friend. Bewildered by and critical of what he sees as Sally's feminist platitudes, Justin suspects lesbianism, seeing a parallel with his own troubled student, Mark, who discovers that his girlfriend is sleeping with her white female professor. Sally's inability to articulate what she lacks feeds Justin's feelings of helplessness, underscored by a colleague's accusations of Uncle Tomism. In exquisitely tuned prose, Nunez depicts a man's lonely attempt to save his marriage while honoring his roots. Adopting Justin's sage, reasoned point of view tempered by the Great Books he teaches, Nunez allows the narrative to unfold with understated elegance. Although Sally's existential struggle often seems unfocused and simplistic, Justin must learn to reacquaint himself with the woman he loves. As in most of life, there is no shattering epiphany here but, rather, a subtly shaded landscape, at once familiar and pitted with hidden challenges.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Trinidad-born Justin Peters seemingly has it all: a beautiful, accomplished wife named Sally; a precocious four-year-old daughter; a fabulous brownstone in the hip Fort Greene section of Brooklyn; and a professorship at a public university. Everything is picture perfect until his mate blindsides him by confessing that she is unhappy and planning to move out, taking their child with her. While this story has been told before, Nunez, winner of the 2001 American Book Award for Bruised Hibiscus, captures the essence of relational ambivalence and poignantly weaves the everyday cadence of work and child-rearing into the struggle for self-actualization; one gets a good sense of how difficult it is for wounded people to trust and love each other fully. Although Justin is more complicated and multidimensional than Sally-which is regrettable-Nunez has nonetheless written a deeply felt and compassionate novel. Wise and resonant, it will strike a chord with readers interested in the interplay of race, class, and gender within relationships. Highly recommended for all libraries.
Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345455347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345455345
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,702,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Nunez immigrated to the US from Trinidad after completing high school there. She is the author of eight novels. Boundaries (PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award and nominated for the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Fiction); Anna In-Between (long-listed for an IMPAC Dublin International Award and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal ); Prospero's Daughter (2010 Trinidad and Tobago One Book, One Community selection; New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, 2006 Florida Center for the Literary Arts One Book, One Community selection, and 2006 Novel of the Year for Black Issues Book Review); Bruised Hibiscus (American Book Award); Discretion (short-listed for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award); Grace; Beyond the Limbo Silence (Independent Publishers Book Award); and When Rocks Dance. Most of Nunez's novels have also been published as audio books, and two are in translation, in Spanish and German. Nunez has also written several monographs of literary criticism published in scholarly journals, and is co-editor of the anthology, Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Woman Writers at Home and Abroad.

Nunez was co-founder of the National Black Writers Conference, which she directed for eighteen years with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Reed Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. She was executive producer for the 2004 Emmy nominated CUNY TV series, Black Writers in America. Her awards include 2013 National Council for Research on Women Outstanding Trailblazer Award; 2013 Caribbean American Distinguished Writer Award; 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Lifetime Literary Award; 2011 Barnes and Noble Poets and Writers, Writers for Writers Award. Nunez is a member of several boards, including the Center for Fiction, and CUNY TV. She is a judge for several national and international literary awards, including the Dublin IMPAC International Literary Award, and gives readings of her work across the country and abroad. Nunez received her PhD in English from New York University. She is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, the City University of New York, where she teaches creative writing, fiction.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What happens when you learn the "big T Truth" about your marriage and your spouse? What happens when a husband learns that the "more" a wife is looking for does not necessarily include him, that her search is not about him? Elizabeth Nunez, with all the deftness of the master storyteller that she is, has crafted a tale of a woman searching for her truth and her husband learning his. Sally wants more; Justin thinks she has enough. Sally is blinded by fear; Justin can only see her through his eyes. "Grace" is a commentary on the truth that a marriage is comprised of two individuals, that despite the oneness society places on a couple, the fact remains that the couple is made of two. Sally and Justin, like some couples, approached the point when one part of the couple begins the fight for her individuality. Some people never make the necessary waves in a marriage in order to grab a better hold onto one's individuality; Justin's mother didn't . Sally did. Justin's turning point came when he realized that his mother was surfing those same waves internally.
In this quilt of Sally and Justin's marriage, Nunez also threaded in other patches that either blinded Justin to his big T Truth or opened his eyes to it. Maybe his wife has taken a lover, just not the man he envisioned. Maybe it is jealousy spurring him to say his wife isn't a poet. Maybe he holds back complimenting his student because of his own lack of success in his dream.
Thank you, Elizabeth Nunzez, for doing it again: giving me a story of a man so focused on himself that he thinks those people in his life are just bit players in his Grecian Tragedy, people on the periphery of his drama.
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Format: Hardcover
A story of a marriage. A story of growth. A story of sacrifice. A story of heart. A love story. Elizabeth Nunez encapsulates all of these in her latest novel about the Trinidad-born Justin and Harlemite Sally, who are teetering on the edge of their once marital bliss. Justin, a British literary scholar, is convinced that his wife is seeing someone else. Sally has become despondent, turned from him in bed, and seems to just be going through the motions. She no longer takes pride in reading the great works, instead turning to self-help books and talk shows for enlightenment. In short, things have changed. Determined to hold the family together, Justin refuses to accept the fact that Sally may be leaving him. He endures other trials outside of his marriage in his workplace that get him thinking about what he must do to prevent the ties that bind his family from severing.
Nunez has a beautiful way with language, comforting the reader with her lilting prose. With this language, she brings a vibrance to her characters that is rarely paralleled. Don't expect a highly-charged dramatic plotline. Nunez instead relies on realistic human situations, emotions, and personas to captivate her readers. This book is titled appropriately, as Nunez handles the trying times of her characters with an abundance of grace.
Reviewed by CandaceK
The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
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Format: Hardcover
The above reviews cover this book great so I'll just add a few...
Sally, a primary school teacher on the verge of turning 40 finds herself wanting more. She finds herself feeling like she just exist, a mother, a wife, a friend,a teacher. She struggles with some serious wounds of the past that haunt her. Feeling unfulfilled she wants more, to feel like her life has meaning. Justin starts to open his eyes to his wife once she says" she needs space" he fears her leaving,Justin loves his wife and he also has issues from the past. Sally attends a retreat where can think, find her meaning, her worth. She discovers what it is she needs and where she wants to be..she already has the things she needs and she is the woman that she wants to be.
This was a moving, realistic family drama about love,marriage,finding yourself, letting go and having peace of mind and heart.
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Format: Hardcover
American Book Award-winning author Elizabeth Nunez's latest novel, Grace, is a moving and poignant story that explores a woman's search for self. Justin Peters and his wife, Sally are an African-American, middle-class couple in distress; both are highly intelligent, educated and successful in their careers but things are amidst in their marriage. Sally is on the verge of turning forty and it appears experiencing mid-life crisis; all she knows is that she needs space from her husband Justin. For her happiness has always been based on a slogan she saw once which said `joy is a learned skill, and that it takes strength to be happy." Justin has observed lately that Sally is still a good wife, a good mother, a good friend and a good role model; but is she happy in her role as wife and mother or does she need more to complete her. When Sally is not forthcoming with why she is unhappy or why she needs space Justin begins to believe it is because she is seeing someone else. Justin is at wits-ends and struggling emotionally because he does not know what to do to make Sally happy and keep their marriage intact. As he surmises why Sally no longer wants him, he comes to the conclusion that she never got over her former lover and believes that therein lies the problem. However, when Sally decides to move out with their four year old daughter, Giselle, and into a girlfriend's apartment, Justin becomes extremely suspicious and suspects that his wife is a lesbian. Will Justin find the TRUTH and the answers to the questions that elude him? Can he create a solution before it is too late? Can he save his marriage?
Nunez paints an exquisitively written novel yet complex portrayal of a marriage in transition. She takes a mundane subject (i.e.
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