From Publishers Weekly
Straight's (A Million Nightingales) newest heroine, FX Antoine, keeps a distance from her family, her past, and even her present. Her one tie to home is her godson Victor, the child of her murdered best friend, whose involvement in a shooting sends him careening off the college path and potentially straight into a life of crime. He flees to Louisiana, where FX grew up, and is followed by her and her father, who wrestles with family secrets of his own. Their pursuit of Victor is marred by complications, not the least of which is the looming Hurricane Katrina, putting them all at risk. Straight again places readers in a rich and alien culture, a mélange of misfits and outlaws. FX is a detached protagonist, resisting her own family and culture, and readers will share her outsider's viewpoint. Straight's love of language is embedded in every page, though often at the expense of plot, and parts of the puzzle remain obscure in an otherwise rich and absorbing story. (Oct.) (c)
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For some, despite passage of time or change of location, the past is very much alive. Such is the case for Fantine, a travel writer living in L.A., worlds apart from Rio Seco, the community she grew up in only an hour east. Even while roaming the globe and with skin so light that she can pass for “Argentinean. Or Andalusian. Maybe a tanned Angeleno,” Fantine is, and will always be, African American. On the fifth anniversary of the death of Glorette, the past comes rushing back. In luscious prose, author Straight expertly captures the complexities of Fantine’s identity. Having broken with her family to live in the city, Fantine straddles two worlds; now a tourist in her family home, she dresses and speaks different than her peers. As hurricane Katrina brews in the Gulf, a family crisis sends Fantine back to Rio Seco and then on to Louisiana, where, in 1958, her and Glorette’s mothers fled to escape a serial rapist who felt entitled to black girls, and where, generations earlier, Moinette, an ancestor, lived as a slave, as depicted in A Million Nightingales (2006). --Ben Segedin