Children of Men

Jeanne Schinto, Author Persea Books $19.95 (236p) ISBN 978-0-89255-156-9
Identity doesn't come easy to Cathy ``Bird Legs'' Ashwell, who grows up a poor white in the primarily black southeast section of Washington, D.C. At 16 she falls hard for a devil-may-care black youth, loses him in the midst of a scrape with the law, but bears his child, all the while reserving a worshipful nostalgia for him. She also falls into a liaison with a white laborer, whose attractively puckish veneer crumbles to reveal a deluded and perverted outcast by the time Cathy leaves him, five years and two additional children later. Cathy, chipper and sensible in spite of poverty, rape and a haunting sense of rootlessness, is an appealing narrator, whose idiom--in flux, like her character--combines black English with a rural Appalachian twang and can transmit character with boldness and brevity. Readers, however, may feel at a loss to square the thematic importance of her children with Schinto's ( Shadow Bands ) failure, in this promising first novel, to fill them out as characters. Cathy plucks her economic and emotional independence out of a violent denouement. While all too optimistic, this resolution, happily,leaves open the enticing possibility of a sequel. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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