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I Wish I Had a Red Dress Audio, Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How do you follow up a debut that's a New York Times bestseller, an Oprah Book Club Selection that's still in the Amazon top 100 two years after publication? If you're canny like Cleage, author of What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, you write a sequel, of course. Returning to Idlewild, Mich., the setting of her first book, Cleage takes up the story of Joyce, big sister to Ava, who was the focus of the original and who is absent from this one, traveling the country with her husband, Eddie. Fortysomething Joyce, a dedicated social worker, has always tended to be an optimist, despite her overwhelmingly tragic life. Her mother committed suicide on her wedding night, her two children died young and her beloved husband drowned five years ago. She's since taken to wearing black, but now she feels ready to wear red again, hence the title. The opportunity to do so comes in the form of Nate Anderson, a new student counselor in town who sees in Joyce the romantic woman who's still beneath the surface. Meanwhile, there's a lot going on at the Sewing Circus, the space Joyce uses for social work. Inspirational, idealistic and spiritual, the book is also sometimes judgmental, and a decidedly "women good, men bad" tone occasionally creeps in; some readers may find this unappealing. The bulk of the book is more about .problem solving specifically, Joyce's efforts at helping young African-American women become "free women" than it is about romance. (July) Forecast: As with many of the follow-ups penned by the Oprah-anointed, this effort will disappoint more than please the acolytes who made the first novel such a huge success, perhaps affecting Cleage's sales down the road. Major ad/promo; 7-city author tour; audio from Harper Audio.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

It's not surprising that Joyce Mitchell wears black all the time; her life has been full of darkness and death. Her story is the sequel to Cleage's well-received debut novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, and is also set in a small Michigan town formerly a resort for wealthy African Americans. Joyce is a social worker counseling young African American women, dedicated to guiding them through teenage pregnancies and destructive relationships. She herself has been on her own for five years of widowhood, and aside from some dreaming, she cannot imagine a life in which wearing a beautiful red dress is ever going to be possible. Then Nate, a former Detroit cop and new high school counselor, moves into town. Nate and Joyce's relationship is developing at the same time Joyce is trying to protect one of her members from a violent man. As reader, Cleage captures the struggles, tensions, and "cosmic confusion" of the war between the sexes in her fictional African American community. The struggles will continue, of course, but the hope is there for an occasion to wear that wonderful red dress. Recommended for public and academic libraries that feature African American fiction. Barbara Valle, El Paso P.L., TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: HarperAudio; Abridged edition (July 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0694524182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0694524181
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,221,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Yasmin Coleman on July 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I Wish I Had A Red Dress is Pearl Cleage's sequel to her best-selling debut novel What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day. Looks Like Crazy was Ava & Eddie's story but in Red Dress, Cleage's focuses on Ava's widowed sister, Joyce Mitchell. Cleage's takes readers back to Idlewild, Michigan which was once a popular resort community for affluent African Americans but is now decaying, however, the ordinary folks who live there are still working to overcome dysfunction and reclaim their lives.
Joyce, continues to work at the center she founded The Sewing Circus and Community Truth Center(which has been affectionately dubbed "The Circus") as a social worker counseling young black women, many of whom are the product of single parent homes and many of whom are single mothers. Although Joyce has her work, her family, her friends and her town...who does she have to take care of her intimately and passionately as only a lover can do? Five years after Mitch's tragic accident, time is still standing still in the romance department for Joyce. While she has her memories, daydreams and self-pleasures none of those can take the place of a muscular, hard, dark and handsome African American male. Joyce knows that something is missing and that sometimes you really need the real thang...but sometimes Joyce is just afraid. Afterall, her father passed when she was sixteen, her mother committed suicide on her wedding night a year later, her son got hit by a car walking home from school when he was six and her daughter didn't make it to her first birthday. After all the other tragedies, Mitch was always the one constant in her life and now he was gone. Opening her heart and chancing love was an endeavor that Joyce wasn't sure she was ready or willing to undertake at 40something.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tolonda Westbrook on August 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Pearl Cleage's, I Wish I Had a Red Dress, which happens to be a continuation of What looks like Crazy on an ordinary day. What a powerful, surprisingly shocking and beauitfully woven story centered around Idlewild, Michigan. This book shines a spotlight on Joyce Mitchell the older sister of Ava and introduces us to people like Nate, Nikki, Tomika, Shelia, Sister and Bill, The Smitherman twins and the infamous Lattimore family. I was delighted that Pearl dedicated a book to Joyce and allowed her to share more of herself with us. It was a gratifying and wonderful book to read and well worth sharing with others. Joyce is a strong and remarkable woman, with so much to give and offer others and she does just that. The story is even laced with some comedy so, it's not too deep and heavy for you. While reading it I found myself rethinking various key moments in my own lifetime. Or as Oprah says, those light blub moments. This book has a liitle something, something for everyone and it's sure to be a book you won't soon forget. Happy reading and thanks Pearl for another delightful, life-changing and powerful read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Grace Moredock on December 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I began reading this book as if it were a sequal to Cleage's first book, "What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day" as the main character of this book Joyce was also one of the prominant character of 'Ordinary Day'. This book totally stands alone. It does make reference to a few characters from 'Ordinary Day' but you do not have to have read 'Ordinary Day' to totally enjoy this book.
Joyce Mitchelle has been a widow for five years and has totally
thrown herself into her work with teens and young girls in a group called the "The Sewing Circus". Since Joyce's husband, Mitch, died she has not dared to embark on an intimate relationship feeling as this would be a betrayal to her beloved Mitch. She has even simplified her life to the point she only wears black clothes so she doesn't have to think about color coordinating.
Nate Anderson takes the position as the new vice principle of the one and only high school in the town of Idlewild, Wisconsin. He is divorced, very tall, very bald, and very handsome.
Nate meets Joyce through mutual acquaintances, and they become fast friends and a formidable yet needed force in Joyces life. Nate even makes Joyce dream of wearing a daring red dress.
Cleage has spun a cast of characters that are so true to life that they make you want to meander into the pages and just slap a few, and hug a few of them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Budd on August 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Calling all free women, or those that want to be free. What is a free woman? A free woman is a woman that is independent and self-sufficient. She can raise her children; she can seek higher and further; and most importantly, she can take care of herself and her own, through a host of skills that 'The Circus' will teach.
The Red Dress, symbolizes the strength and independence for which women strive. The reader will watch Joyce and many young women as they search for their red dress.
Joyce Mitchell who we first met in 'What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day', is back. She continues to work at 'The Circus' teaching young women how to live and be free. Joyce is a strong woman in search of more for herself. The reader will follow Joyce as she raises the standard for young women and herself. We will watch Joyce as she interacts with her core group of friends in Idlewood. We will experience Joyce's emotions when she meets a man ~ the first since her beloved Mitch passed away years ago.
With a group of likeable, and sometimes quirky characters, the reader will become engrossed in Joyce's daily life. Joyce is a stong and intelligent woman. I would have liked to see her character developed more, I know Joyce has an even greater story to be told.
Congrats to Pearl Cleage for creating this dynamic novel. I would recommend that you read both, "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day" and "I Wish I Had A Red Dress."
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