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Lita: A Novel Paperback – May 25, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
This muddled sequel to Dead Above Ground opens when the protagonist of the first book, Lita Du Champ, is summoned back to New Orleans after a decade in Los Angeles when she learns that her father is dying. Tervalon presents a jumbled series of flashbacks, introducing secondary characters at a rapid-fire rate while providing precious little background for readers unfamiliar with Dead Above Ground. The upshot of the flashbacks is that Lita's family is in chaos. Her mother is long dead, killed in a fire set by the man who killed Lita's sister Adele. Lita, married to Winston, a mechanic, takes in her younger twin sisters, Ava and Ana. As the twins grow up in Los Angeles, Ava becomes unmanageable and runs away to Las Vegas to get married at the tender age of 17. Lita's response to this sort of trouble is to grab a broom and lash out with it-some of her encounters with family members verge on the slapstick. Once the novel finally settles in the present, it is disorganized and incomplete, flitting from one subplot to the next. In the mawkish, over-the-top climax, Lita and her twin sisters band together to banish their mother's ghost from her old house, which Lita has inherited. Lita, a black woman who can pass as white but often chooses not to, is an intriguing if cartoonish character, and Tervalon's tone is refreshingly unsentimental, but his unfocused approach leads to a severe case of sequelitis.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This sequel of sorts to Dead above Ground (2000) is rife with noir-tinged, old-fashioned intrigue. It begins, appropriately, at 4 a.m., as transplanted L.A. resident Lita Du Champ is woken by a ringing phone. Her aunt has called with word that Lita's father is near death. This provokes a rush of ambivalent emotions, for, as Lita tells the reader at the outset, "I had detested him all my life." More unsettling still is the news that Lita's mother, dead for a decade, has been spotted on the streets of New Orleans. Hoping to sort through a haze of confusion, Lita heads off to Louisiana to confront the ghosts of her past. This, as you'd expect, is where things begin to get even weirder. Lita tells her story in the same gritty, first-person voice that readers of the earlier novel will remember; she is wise and often funny. Avoiding the flowery prose and lame metaphors that often shatter the mood of noir fiction, Tervalon turns out an atmospheric winner. Kevin Canfield
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
With actions bordering on unbelievable and a whole host of unlikeable characters, this sequel is no happier than its predecessor. However, there is just enough going on in this tale to keep the reader turning pages to reach the unbelievable conclusion.
The saga begins as Lita briefly narrates her family's exodus from New Orleans to Los Angeles. Husband Winston, their two children and her twin sisters Ana and Ava are often the recipients of Lita's vexation with open palmed slaps and her tossing the first object in sight-with them as her target. Quickly Lita's family unravels when Ava runs off and marries; Ana heads back to New Orleans with Aunt Odie; and Lita asks Winston for a divorce. Just when things are bad they become worse when Lita returns to New Orleans and encounters more than a dying father. Lita's homecoming is filled with unpleasant memories, sightings of her deceased mother and gruesome ploys of someone or "something" opposed to Lita inheriting the Du Champ family home. As Lita, Ana and Ava reconnect, unresolved family issues bubble to the surface. Filled with trepidation, the Du Champ women (with the help of Aunt Odie) must return to this troubled house to set free their mother's restless spirit and to destroy the curse that has plagued this family for centuries.
LITA is a wonderful tale of family, its dysfunctions and a ferocious heroine! Jervey Tervalon combines laughter and suspense with unpretentious dialogue and just the right amount of narrative. At times the story is muddled due to its many characters, sub-plots, and toggling between past and present which may confuse readers. Not having read "Dead Above Ground" served as a major disservice for this reviewer and readers are forewarned to familiarize themselves with the debut beforehand as Tervalon provides very little background. This oversight causes LITA to fall short in some areas. Put that aside and LITA is undoubtedly an entertaining read and reminds us that we can pick our friends but not our family members. Sometimes in Lita's case, she can pick neither.
Reviewed by Nicki Lancaster
LITA is a novel of supernatural and natural powers, revealing both ghosts of the past and forces of nature in the present. It's a book that holds on to you from the first page, and there certainly are no lulls. Like the other Tervalon novels I have read, I enjoyed the story immensely and implore him to continue the Du Champ legacy.
Reviewed by CandaceK
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers