cover image Passin’


Karen E. Quinones Miller, . . Grand Central, $13.99 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-446-69605-0

In her fifth novel, Quinones Miller (Satin Doll ) attempts to make a commentary on race but instead delivers a stew of clichés, two-dimensional characters and tired stereotypes. African-American Shanika Jenkins, who has “skin as white as Meryl Streep’s,” blond hair and blue eyes, comes from a long line of Jenkinses who pride themselves on being so light-skinned that some people could mistake them for white. After graduating from college, Shanika gets an interview at a New York PR firm and starts dreaming big. But after the interview, Shanika is told she was turned down for the position because the interviewer thought she was white, and therefore wouldn’t help meet the company’s affirmative action quota. She interviews for another position that isn’t subject to the AA rules as a white woman and, predictably, lands the job and her career takes off. The lies snowball and she hurts plenty of people, including the man of her dreams: the handsome African-American businessman Tyrone Bennett. The ending may surprise, but there are few reasons to get that far. (Feb.)