Monday, May 3, 2010

#BookReview: Till You Hear From Me - Pearl Cleage

Fans of this bestselling author will be delighted to find that once again she has returned to the West End neighborhood of Atlanta.  You'll be reintroduced to characters you previously met in Seen It All and Done the Rest, as well as Baby Brother's Blues and several other of Cleage's books.  Using her words in a way that's reminiscent of J. California Cooper's style, readers are introduced to Ida B. Wells Barnett, daughter of a revered preacher and a feminist mother.

Set shortly after the election of President Obama, Till You Hear From Me is the story of Ida B. and her efforts to reconnect with her father.  A civil rights icon in Georgia, "The Rev" campaigned vigorously for the newly elected president, so when he starts making strange statements to the press and on YouTube, Ida is summoned home by her childhood neighbor, Miss Iona.  Having worked on candidate Obama's campaign, Ida fears she could be overlooked for a job in his administration based on her father's strange behavior.  Though he once worked to register 100,000 voters in the state, the Rev began speaking out against the candidate when he distanced himself from his own pastor, Reverend Wright.

Wes Harper grew up in the West End and couldn't wait to leave.  Departing for boarding school at thirteen, he never looked back.  While others celebrate the win of the newly elected president, Wes is working on a way to benefit from it.  Having no loyalty to anyone or anything other than his bank account, he'll stop at nothing to get his hands on the list of recently registered voters, even if it means deceiving his father's oldest and dearest friend.

I was so excited about reading this book that I went through it in a little over two hours.  Cleage is consistently good with her work and I've yet to be bored by anything she produces.  The reintroduction of former characters is always welcome and makes me want to revisit her past works just to read about them once more. She has created a neighborhood big enough to tell everyone's story without being repetitive, while allowing her returning characters to be a part of the story without taking over it.

What did you like about this book?
I loved the father-daughter relationship between Ida and her father.  Her parents are separated and even though she speaks with both of them, you can tell that her relationship with her father is a very special one.

What did you dislike about this book?
The ending felt a bit rushed and slightly anti-climatic.

What could the author do to improve this book?
 Slow down and give the reader a meatier ending.  That being said, I'm looking forward to, and hoping there is, another "West End" book.

Published April 2010

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