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West of Rehoboth: A Novel
West of Rehoboth: A Novel
by Alexs D. Pate
Edition: Hardcover
59 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book and An Author Who Deserve More Attention!, January 24, 2002
Alex Pate is back and once again gracing us with his lyrical, eloquent and poignant writing style. West of Rehoboth is set in the `60s and is about one summer in the life of 12 year old Edward Massey. Every summer the Masseys traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to escape the heat, gangs and mean streets of Philly. Edward's parents believe that Rehoboth with its idyllic beach resorts and slower pace is a safer environment for a young AA male child in the early `60s. But is it really? While Rehoboth Beach definitely seems to move at a snail's pace, its still below the Mason-Dixon line where Blacks are still relegated to subservient roles. The environment is one of a slow furnace that simmers, cooks slowly and is ever ready to explode because of the extremely depressing racial climate. It's home of Aunt Edna a respected business woman and Uncle Rufus who Aunt Edna makes sleep in the shed out back. Young Edward, who's an avid Agatha Christie fan, has decided this is the summer, that he puts his sleuth skills to work, and finds out who is the real Uncle Rufus. In the process, Edward unknowingly will place his own life in danger as he discovers that Rufus is just one of many AA males who've been beaten down by the system and the times...who's encountered a life of violence, hate, frustration and much disappointment. But in spite of it all, Rufus has a story to tell and one that hopefully can teach Edward a few things about life and growing up as an AA male in this land of the free and the brave called America.
West of Rehoboth is a wonderful read with strong character development. Young Edward and elderly Rufus jump off the pages and into your heart as you read this poignant and engaging story. This is a book that's told with emotional honesty and as such sometimes it made it difficult for me to read in one sitting but the suspense kept me quickly turning the pages. I will admit I was a little disappointed in the ending because I was expecting something different, and as such the ending would make me rate the book a 4.5 but because I thoroughly enjoyed other aspects of the book I rounded up to a 5.0. There are some books that touch you in such a way that its hard to describe with words; West of Rehoboth is one such book for me. This is a book that got under my skin and became a part of my spirit. Maybe its because I could relate to the time-frame and mindset of the early 60s since I was also coming of age then.
Pate is an author with immense skills and talents and I look forward to reading future releases by him. For those who've never checked out Pate before also read his other books to include Finding Makeba(which I've read and highly recommend) and Losing Absalom and the Multicultiboho SideShow(two books that I plan to read soon).
APOOO Bookclub

Resurrecting Mingus
Resurrecting Mingus
by Jenoyne Adams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.00
82 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorites in 2001!, January 24, 2002
This review is from: Resurrecting Mingus (Hardcover)
Growing Up all Mingus Browning ever wanted was to belong, to feel normal and secure in a semi-perfect family. Now all grown up as a mature adult everything appears to be okay in her professional life as a successful lawyer, however, her personal life continues to stay in a rut due to one heartbreak after another. As she sits depressed over the breakup of her last boyfriend, she receives a phone call from her oldest sister, Eva. All hell breaks loose when Mingus learns that her father has left her white mom for another woman...a black woman no less. Mingus was unprepared for the dissolution of her parents 35-year marriage or the fact that life as she knew it would be ever shattered. Mingus is torn as she struggles to do right by her mom, although she's always been closest to her father, Carl. As Carl pulls away from Mingus the hole he digs might be too deep to ever repair and the lives he shatters will never be the same again.
Resurrecting Mingus is a well-written, candid and poignant debut novel from Jenoyne Adams. Its a tale about growing up in an interracial family. A tale of secrets, deceit, betrayal and identity issues. The Browning Family truly makes you wonder how one family can appear so normal on the outside yet be so dysfunctional on the inside. As the family is engulfed by the affects of adultery, the bond seems to ravel as we discover secrets that have been hidden for over 30 years. One of the greatest strength of Adams writing is the character development and her ability to transition seamlessly between characters as she allows them to each tell their crucial side of the story. The reader is allowed to witness up close and personal the emotional side of the Browning Family. There's Mingus, the successful younger daughter who's only wanted to be loved and to belong. She couldn't understand why her mother seemed to prefer her sister Eva over her. Mingus' mom, Ellen, struggles to understand why her marriage collapsed. Seems she was more concerned about loving her husband than she was about loving herself. Mingus' father Carl confronts his many mistakes and owns up to a few of them. Mingus' older sister, Eva probably the least understood member of the family. As the story climaxes and comes to an explosive ending, Eva was the person who appeared to have no redeeming qualities and an individual that you loved to hate.
Resurrecting Mingus is appropriately titled as familial and personal events force Mingus to reevaluate her relationship with her parents as well as her feelings about her biracial identity. Resurrecting Mingus is a craftily written, riveting and poignant novel. Adams gives a new and different voice to a interracial marriage and the affect that it has on kids even when they're grown. It's a moving and touching story that you will ponder long after you read the last chapter. Pick up this book and discover this new author today.
APOOO Bookclub

Erasure: A Novel
Erasure: A Novel
by Percival L. Everett
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book That Deserves Your Attention!, January 24, 2002
This review is from: Erasure: A Novel (Hardcover)
I picked up this book because of the cover but it's the storyline from page 1 through page 265 which kept me quickly turning the pages. Theo Monk is a college professor and a writer of intellectual, though-provoking and creatively crafted literary storylines. Unfortunately, even with several books under his belt/name very few people have heard of him and he has very few sales/dollars to show for his effort. After one rejection letter too many for his latest literary masterpiece, Monk decides to change his approach and jump on the contemporary "ghetto fabulous" bandwagon, under the pseudonym Stagg R. Leigh with a story called My Pafology which he later shortens to an offensive four letter word beginning with a F. Much to his chagrin, he becomes an overnight success, receives a six-figure book advance and a ... million dollar movie deal. Soon Monk's alter ego seems to take over his life as he tries to remain on the downlow and not expose his true identity. In addition to maintaining a secret identity, Monk must also deal with family issues such as a mother with Alzheimer's, a brother who's gay and a sister who runs an abortion clinic. Everett successfully pulls all the plots together and has one anxiously turning the pages to see what Monk is going to do next and what is going to be the outcome of his "scheme".
Erasure is a riveting and poignant novel. It's well-written, edgy and filled with colorful characters, humor and wit. It's a provocative storyline that's a parody and commentary on the current crop of "ghetto fabulous" fiction that continues to sell because it usually offers tons of entertainment rather than information or enlightenment. Erasure is a must read for anyone who wants a change of pace, insightful reading and a provocative storyline. While its a book filled with much substance and depth it's written in a very understandable fashion and is a very compelling read. Pick it up today if you dare to read something that's different from the norm.
APOOO Bookclub

Greenwichtown: A Novel
Greenwichtown: A Novel
by Joyce Palmer
Edition: Hardcover
12 used & new from $0.63

5.0 out of 5 stars A Book That Deserves More Attention!, January 24, 2002
This review is from: Greenwichtown: A Novel (Hardcover)
Greenwichtown by Joyce Palmer is an impressive debut novel. Palmer descriptively and vividly brings to life the sights, smells, and tastes of Jamaica as well as its rich history and vibrant people. Palmer introduces us to young Fay who lives in the destitute, rural and impoverished Jamaica that few tourist ever see. One day Fay's older sister comes to visit her mother and decides to take Fay back with her to the city for a two-week vacation. Unfortunately, the two-week vacation turns into years and Fay will be raised in an abusive and lonely environment with her sister. The burning question as one reads is why did Fay's older sister uproot Fay from her mom and other siblings.
Palmer writes with raw talent a lyrical and eloquent story about family, life, hope, love and redemption. Her writing is believable and realistic as she portrays the blight and plight of young Fay's life. The reader will cry, lol and rejoice as Fay comes of age and jumps off the pages into our lives. Greenwichtown is a well-written novel with a tight and sound story that I recommend to anyone looking for a refreshing change of pace. I anxiously await future releases from this young and talented author.
APOOO Bookclub

The Upper Room
The Upper Room
by Mary Monroe
Edition: Hardcover
75 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Character Driven...and filled with colorful ones!, January 24, 2002
This review is from: The Upper Room (Hardcover)
The Upper Room by Mary Monroe is filled with colorful characters from the rural, backwoods of Florida down in the Everglades. Characters with names like Sister Mary's Sister, Fat Jack, Yellow Gang, and Catty. Characters who believe in voodoo, roots, tarot cards and a big woman weighing over 400 pounds named Ruby.
Ruby had always wanted a baby daughter and usually what Ruby wanted she got even if it meant she had to take it. When Ruby's friend, Ophelia, had a daughter that was supposedly stillborn she asked Ruby to take the baby and bury it for her. On the way to a burial site, Ruby realized the young girl had a heartbeat so with her "healing hands" she nursed the baby back to health and named her Maureen. Not wanting to return the well-baby to her friend and wanting a daughter anyway, Ruby packs up in the middle of the night and leaves with her son ,Leo, and baby Maureen. They would make their home in Goon, FL. Goon was a place where Ruby was perceived as a Giant, an Amazon, a God-fearing woman and one not to be reckoned with. Ruby didn't take any stuff from anyone and if you valued your life you stayed on her good side or you made sure your paths didn't cross. Afterall, Ruby was just as likely to smile at you as she was to kill you and bury you for crossing her. Since she was friends with the white sheriff he would more than likely not acknowledge that Ruby had committed a crime.
As Maureen and Leo grow up they realize that all is not right with Mama Ruby. Leo decides to sign up for Vietnam and he never returns. But Ruby worships Maureen and so she doesn't encourage her to leave home and tries to keep her close by the Upper Room. The Upper Room is Maureen's room. It's located upstairs and the only folks allowed to enter the room are Maureen and Ruby; no man should ever set foot in the room because Ruby says its a holy spot. Maureen tires of Ruby and country living and sets her sights on leaving one day but will she be successful?
The Upper Room by Mary Monroe is a energetic and spellbinding read. The colorful characters keep you turning the pages especially Ruby who keeps you guessing about what will she do next. If you're looking for a creatively crafted read and enjoy stories about folks that are a little bizarre then pick up The Upper Room today and settle in with Mama Ruby and company.

Walking The Line
Walking The Line
by Althea Christina Hughes
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars It's More than Walking the Line....., November 10, 2001
This review is from: Walking The Line (Paperback)
I was a little skeptical about reading another book about the sorority experience, because in the past, the books I read didn't appear to target an audience beyond 18-24 years of age. So I was pleasantly surprised that Walking The Line by Althea Hughes was an engrossing and compelling page turner which I finished in one sitting and it was a really good story. Hughes provides a realistic and accurate portrayal of the sorority experience but more importantly it could have been about any experience. After close examination of the main character, Charisma(aka Charis) Alexander she is literally walking a very fine line between following her dreams and pleasing herself or following the steps of others and pleasing them.
Charis is forced to make many decisions through her coming of age of the most crucial decisions at the moment is whether or not she will jeopardize her 4.0 GPA by pledging her senior year of college. If it were left to Charis she would postpone pledging any sorority forever...afterall what's the big deal? Well, to Charis mother it's a very big deal. Afterall, the women in Charis family are all Rho Kappa Delta sorors with a family legacy and history that "pressures" all female relatives to become RKD sister. Kyra , president of RKD, knows of Charis' family legacy and coerces Charis into pledging. What ensues is a rollercoaster pledging experience with a cast of characters who will have you LOL, shaking your head, screaming out loud and wanting to give a few folks a breakdown.
On a serious note, Hughes writing/message does more than entertain. Hughes provides a three-dimensional view of Charis so that we see her making decisions regarding her future career, her trifling boyfriend, negotiating peace among her divorced parents and really coming to self-realization about who is Charis. Also the secondary characters represented duality. Kyra and Briana are polar opposites, as were Randall and Sean, and Charis's parents William and Anna. But Charis seem to always be in the middle of all of these relationships. In the end, Charis' realizes that she must follow her own moral code, she must follow her heart and create her own path through life.
Walking the Line is far more than initiation, pledging and hazing it's about growing up and making your own decisions. Thanks Ms. Hughes for a wonderful and insightful debut novel.
I look forward to more creatively crafted and refreshing storylines from you in the future.

Jamerican Connection
Jamerican Connection
by Sandra A. Ottey
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from $17.97

4.0 out of 5 stars He's Got To Go!, November 10, 2001
This review is from: Jamerican Connection (Paperback)
Jamerican Connection is an intriguing debut novel from Sandra A. Ottey which intertwines the lives of three women into an engrossing tale of friendship, relationships, lies, deceit, secrets, domestic violence, infidelity and suspense.
While Ottey writes about three women and their relationships with each other as well as their male significant others, the story is really Rose's. It's Rose's story that compels the reader to continue reading this almost 400 page book into the wee hours of the morning. It is Rose and Donovan's relationship that will have you screaming and wanting to jump into the pages to shake some sense into Rose and to give Donovan the beatdown of his life for being so insensitive and abusive. Donovan preys on young girls and he elevated his manhood and self-esteem by marrying Rose when she was only 16, pregnant with his child and a high school dropout. Rose's idyllic marriage quickly turned into a living hell as she witnessed her husband have one two many affairs and one two many kids to go along with the multiple affairs. Rose desperately wants to get away from Donovan but nothing is beneath Donovan when it comes to keeping Rose dependent, barefoot and pregnant if necessary. The horrific acts that Donovan commits against Rose are at times so inhuman that one has to set the book aside for a moment and take a breather before moving forward with the story.
Sandra Ottey has written a heart-wrenching yet moving and riveting debut novel. One of her greatest strengths and weaknesses is the character development of Rose and Donovan, however, Laverne and Wendy's stories really paled in comparison...they were more secondary characters vs. characters on equal footing with Rose. In fact, if their characters weren't included the story still would have been a compelling one. Although, I didn't like the ending for Rose's character. I almost felt like she was proclaiming independence but she was still depending on a man to help her make it through the rough spots. I would have preferred if Rose moved on and became an independent woman who could stand on her own two feet without necessarily having the opposite sex around if she stumbled. Additionally, I felt the ending was a little rushed and had a few loose ends...but then maybe Ottey is going to grace us with a sequel. Overall, I really enjoyed the author's writing style. I liked the vivid imagery and descriptors as well as how she blended life on the islands with life stateside. I look forward to future books from this author.

Miss Ophelia
Miss Ophelia
by Mary Burnett Smith
Edition: Paperback
49 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, Well Told, November 10, 2001
This review is from: Miss Ophelia (Paperback)
Miss Ophelia is a wonderful, well written coming of age story about young Isabella Henderson aka Belly. When you're eleven years old you still look forward to summers spent hanging out with friends, swimming and staying up late trying to hear snippets of grown folks conversations. Unfortunately, Belly wouldn't have the luxury of learning to swim from her best friend, 13 year old Teeny who is pregnant and being sent away to have her baby. Rather than spending a lonely summer in her rural, small hometown of Lambertville, Va, Belly decides to visit her Aunt Rachel and Uncle Avery for a few weeks. A visit, Belly wasn't initially looking forward to until she heard that she would be able to take piano lessons from Miss Ophelia. Miss Ophelia is a childhood friend of Belly's Mother and Belly is hoping that she will learn somethings about her mom from Miss Ophelia. Miss Ophelia and Belly do become friends and it is during their friendship that Belly learns that Uncle Avery is having an affair with her piano teacher. What ensues after that is much more than Belly bargained for and forces Belly to grow up quicker than she anticipated.
Miss Ophelia by Mary Burnett Smith is an enchanting and intriguing debut novel. The storyline has a superb plot, awesome characterization, wonderful pacing and vivid imagery. The characters are engaging and memorable including the secondary characters. Who can forget Uncle Willie! What a delightful character full of wisdom and insightful lessons. Everyone should know an Uncle Willie. Miss Ophelia was a sad, sweet and funny read filled with humor, subtlety and sensitivity. I enjoyed this book immensely and especially liked that it was told in the voice of eleven year old Belly. It's a wonderful story that provides great insight into small town living and family seen through the eyes of a child.

Gal: A True Life
Gal: A True Life
by Ruthie Bolton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.09
152 used & new from $0.01

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Go Gal!, November 10, 2001
This review is from: Gal: A True Life (Hardcover)
What a Story! Originally when I picked up Gal, I thought it was going to take me back to the `30s or `40s. Gosh was I surprised to find out that the author was born in 1961...she's around my age! As I read her story I was appalled and thought the atrocity of her situation shouldn't have ever happened. Where was the extended family? Why didn't someone...anyone intervene?
Ruthie Bolton, aka Gal, was born in the impoverished Hungry Neck section of Charleston. Ruthie's mom was a 13-year old teenager and she never knew her father. Tired of her step-father abusing her, Ruthie's mother left home and Ruthie, and never returned to claim her. Ruthie's step-grandfather, Clovis Fleetwood, while an honorable enlisted Navy man was a mean, vicious, brutal, selfish, jealous and unloving family man. Because Fleetwood though Ruthie's grandmother was cheating on him he brutally attacked her and left her for dead while her granddaughter and children watched. Ruthie's life would be pure hell after her grandmother's death and would quickly spiral into one of poverty, abuse, neglect, humiliation, and later in her teen years include stealing, drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, and an early marriage which ended in divorce. Only after Ruthie meets her second husband, Ray Bolton, and his family will she be shown love, support, understanding and compassion. And it is then as an adult that she realized that her family and childhood were not normal.
Gal is a heartwrenching but touching and poignant story. It's a story of overcoming obstacles and excelling in spite of adversity. It's a story of what one is able to accomplish when one has the love of a family. It's a story that I recommend to everyone but especially those who need the motivation to move beyond a horrible past. Ruthie's story is one of pain, humiliation, courage and ultimately love. Ruthie's life is a miracle and a triumph. Thank you Ruthie Bolton for sharing your story.

Zachary's Wings: A Novel
Zachary's Wings: A Novel
by Rosemarie Robotham
Edition: Hardcover
56 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written Debut Novel!, November 10, 2001
I ordered this book by mistake but after reading the book description I decided to keep it. I'm glad I did as it was a very good read.
Zachary Piper is a Philadelphia social worker with a heart of gold. Zach is a compassionate and easy going spirit who's always there for everyone else---family, friends, co-workers, clients and significant others. But who's there for Zachary? Enter Korie Morgan...albeit a driven soul with a fierce competitive nature...she appears to be the perfect mate for Zachary. Well at least she's there at the right time and in the right place. Over a swift weekend, their relationship quickly blossoms and they're professing their undying love for each other. However, there's a slight problem...Korie hasn't come clean regarding her current relationship.
Zachary`s Wing is a compelling and though provoking debut novel. It's an intriguing story about the tangled web of secrets that begin to consume Zach and Korie's lives. Robotham's writing is fluid and lyrical. As she involves us in Zach and Korie's story she shares with us tough and taboo issues that they must face before they can truly be together. Controversial issues such as race, class and culture, sexuality and infidelity. Zachary's Wing is captivating and rich. The characters are memorable and believable and we share in their pain, joy, sorrow and hope. Zachary Wing by Rosemarie Robotham is an insightful and touching look into the nature of human relationships.

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