Richard Dry, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-312-28331-5

Dry covers plenty of political and historical ground in this epic, multigenerational debut novel, an earnest but derivative saga that chronicles the efforts of an African-American family to overcome the inequities of racial injustice. The story begins in 1959, when matriarch Ruby Washington travels from her rural South Carolina home to Oakland in search of a better life. But by leaving, she unknowingly sets off a cycle of poverty and violence that will mar the lives of her children. The most intriguing subplot is that of her charismatic half-brother, Easton, a potential civil rights leader who survives a difficult trip to attend the march at Selma, Ala., after getting involved with a white girl, only to get shot by police back in Oakland. The other major subplots are familiar: Ruby's daughter, Lida, falls victim to heroin, while Lida's son, Love, struggles to escape the clutches of the Oakland hip-hop gangs. Dry is a solid storyteller with plenty of compassion for his characters, but unfortunately they never rise above the level of stereotypes, and the author's decision to skip back and forth chronologically in his narrative rather than to relate each character's tale is distracting at best. The result is a generic retelling of a struggle that's been detailed with more flair, grit and verve by other writers. Agent, Victoria Sanders. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-312-30287-0
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4668-5040-8
Show other formats
Discover what to read next