Pearl Cleage, Author . Ballantine/One World $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-345-45606-9

Past is prologue—literally—for a young African-American woman making a fresh start in Cleage's (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day...) highly readable third novel. Just out of rehab and nearly bankrupt, 34-year-old Regina Burns receives a much-needed job offer from motivational speaker Beth Davis, a former employer. At 24, Regina went to work for Beth as a speechwriter and special assistant, helping Beth bring her message of empowerment to a growing national audience. The two women were accompanied by Beth's 20-something only child, known to all as Son. Regina fell in love with Son, but agreed to hide the romance from disapproving Beth. When they were discovered, Son broke up with Regina rather than upset his mother, driving Regina back home to D.C. and into a cocaine habit. Just as she is on the verge of losing everything, word of Son's death in New York on September 11 shocks Regina into rehab. When Beth decides to donate Son's papers to his alma mater, Morehouse College, she hires Regina to coordinate the project. Upon arriving in Atlanta, Regina runs into charismatic Blue Hamilton, an ex-singer who becomes her landlord. Blue wields an odd power over a peaceful city enclave bordered by threatening neighborhoods—and over Regina as well. As she works quickly to organize Son's papers, Regina must decide what to do with growing evidence of a secret life he kept hidden from Beth. At the same time Regina fears for Blue's safety when neighborhood tensions begin to escalate. The novel takes a creative path to a predictable ending, neatly resolving several plot lines. Regina is a delightful narrator: frank, self-aware and keenly observant. Cleage stumbles with the story's brief detour into the supernatural, but this distracting misstep only slightly diminishes the story's appeal. 8-city author tour.(Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/01/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-0-345-47826-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-3023-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-3022-4
Open Ebook - 215 pages - 978-0-307-54705-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 303 pages - 978-0-345-45608-3
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-0-7862-6812-2
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-345-45607-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7927-4167-1
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