From Publishers Weekly
An upscale New England prep school is the setting for an intense confrontation between a brilliant Latin teacher and a precocious student in Southgate's quietly stunning second novel (after Another Way to Dance). Jeremy Washington is the erudite African-American academic whose carefully constructed world begins to collapse with the simultaneous arrival of Jana Hansen, a high-spirited, divorced English teacher, and Rashid Bryson, one of the few African-American students at the elite Chelsea School. Hansen makes the first dent in Washington's emotional armor when the attraction between the two teachers bubbles over into a romantic night after they chaperone a school dance. But Hansen is put off by Washington's reluctance to help her with the troubled Bryson, who is struggling to deal with the tragic death of his brother, Kofi, a former scholarship student whose promising stint at a private school was curtailed when he was killed in a random shooting in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Washington cites the youth's lack of discipline as the reason for his unwillingness, but when Bryson calls out Washington after receiving a blatantly unfair grade in Latin class, their meeting strikes a chord from Washington's own troubled past that reveals the real source of his antipathy. Southgate is a compelling storyteller who slowly builds tension while drawing three marvelously diverse characters, and her plot transcends its racial themes as she steers her charges toward a surprising but believable ending. This is a deeply thoughtful, literate novel, and Southgate's ability to explore the social and emotional elements that unite and divide us establishes her as a serious talent. Agent, Geri Thoma.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Jerome teaches Latin at the Chelsea School, an elite Eastern boarding school for boys. He describes himself as "the only Negro on the faculty," and his love for classical civilization isolates him-but it also has taught him the discipline to wrest from the world, against all odds, this life that suits him so well. He is deeply committed to the institution's "values of order, decorum, rectitude," and disdainful of what he sees as the self-defeating attitude of many young blacks. Enter Rashid, a troubled but determined young African-American city boy. His imagination is captured by a Chelsea brochure's promise to "change the future"-but when he gets there, the school's WASP culture, and Jerome's hostility, keep him seriously off-balance. Jana, a new teacher, worked for many years in Cleveland's inner-city schools, where she always was the only white woman. She wants to help Rashid, and she and Jerome have a problematic sexual liaison. By the time the headmaster asks them all to recruit more "diverse" students, their lives are woven together in a complicated dynamic that reveals each character's deepest strengths and flaws. This moving story is told from their three perspectives in a simple, elegant, and graceful style. The book is easy to read yet resonates richly with many insights and issues that most readers should readily recognize and relate to.Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.