cover image Sweet Summer

Sweet Summer

Bebe Moore Campbell / Author Putnam Publishing Group $18.95 (2

This insightful tribute to fathers--biological and stand-in--and mothers is told in a series of reminiscences of black writer Campbell's ( Successful Women, Angry Men ) childhood, which she spent with each of her divorced parents in turn: her mother in Philadelphia and her father, a paraplegic, in rural North Carolina. Campbell's narrative skillfully weaves childhood and adult voices together, showing a healthy respect for the cadences of black English. Her focus is on her changing view of her father as she grows from childhood to adolescence; once a loving but absentee god-like figure, he comes to seem a mortal and flawed human with whom she achieves a loving and mature relationship (``the best part of my father, the jewel stuck deep inside his core, was determination''). She writes of the transition with the poignant longing of a child and the knowledge of an adult. The book also concerns coming of age black in the civil rights era: summers spent in a South where signs for ``colored'' were common and winters in Philadelphia, where Campbell's mother ``was absolutely savage about enunciation, pronunciation, speaking co-rrectly, so that they would approve.'' (June)