cover image Free Style

Free Style

Linda Nieves-Powell, . . Atria, $14 (262pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-4281-0

As the charmingly low-key first novel from writer producer Nieves-Powell (Yo Soy Latina! ) opens, it’s been 10 years since Staten Islander Idalis married the macho but unambitious Manny, and three months since they loosely separated due to their inability to agree on plans for raising their six-year-old son. Idalis wonders whether the marriage can be saved (Manny’s looking elsewhere), and whether she’ll be working as a secretary at a Madison Avenue ad agency for the rest of her life because of subtle racism and the lack of a college degree. A dreamboat she meets on the Staten Island ferry may provide one answer, but a visit to her old Bronx stomping grounds with Selenis, a former homegirl who’s now a disappointed housewife and mother, may allow Idalis to put the past to bed and pursue a brighter future. Nieves-Powell crafts an unhurried, nonjudgmental everywoman’s tale. (Mar.)