A novel about Rosemary Kenny, a single mother in Wash., DC who works as a communications consultant for a PR company. Her daughter Dee is interested only in her new boyfriend, a struggling rap singer whose father is in prison & cousin is in the drug trade. Rosemary meets Viktor Hajek, a journalist from Czechoslovakia, with whom she develops a romance, & she is faced again with the complicated options that life presents. The touching story of a woman who must balance her political beliefs & her deepest emotions; her daughter's freedom & her welfare; her own protective armor & her first love affair since her marriage ended.
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The author of The World Around Midnight (1991), etc., earnestly chronicles the trials of a well-meaning liberal mother who has an out-of-control adolescent daughter. Rosemary Kenny lives in downtown D.C. with 16-year-old Shelly, whose father long since suffered a breakdown and retreated to Texas. When Shelly brings home Dee, a handsome, gold-chain-sporting rapper, Rosemary worries that his red sweatsuit means that he's in a gang. But then the young man moves in when his grandmother loses her apartment, and he disproves Rosemary's fears by starting diligently to look for work. Meanwhile, Rosemary has only a tenuous hold on her own job at a p.r. firm, a company perfectly typified by the piranhas the managing director keeps in a tank in his office. The company has just won the account of a violence-torn Caribbean nation, and Rosemary goes about organizing an art show of an island painter. One night, while patrolling with her Neighborhood Watch group, she gets knocked down by Viktor, a Czech journalist chasing a robber. Viktor later sends flowers and seems romantically interested--a terrifying prospect for Rosemary, who hasn't dated in years. Then Dee is arrested for murder. Shooting erupts at Rosemary's art opening. And Viktor persists, offering both sex and solace. The catastrophes, however, only multiply: Rosemary is fired, while Dee is exonerated but falls into smuggling guns. Finally, Rosemary kicks him out, Shelly follows after, and Viktor gets an irresistible job offer in Prague. Although Rosemary's grit and humor are offered up as ballast, and there are hints that she's wise about choosing her battles, there's also something enervating about her response to disaster: She keeps her pain secret, snipes at Shelly, and crawls into bed with a newspaper. While beleaguered mothers of teens may experience multiple twinges of recognition, this litany of urban and parenting tribulations--without the benefit of a compelling protagonist--is more exhausting than moving. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Family relationships limned with humor and sympathy, pitch-perfect dialogue and an infallible sense of place distinguish Griffith's entertaining third novel (after The World Around Midnight). Tracing several months in the life of narrator Rosemary Kenney, a single mother living in a racially diverse section of Washington, D.C., the narrative has a seductive pull as Griffith expertly entwines several plot elements. She captures the essence of the city with palpable descriptions (the "cloying sweetness of confederate jasmine" in August), an intimate historical sense ("...older people tell about the days when they cut across the White House lawn on their way to town") and a lighthearted self-awareness. This wit fully extends to Rosemary's description of her own life with her pretty, alarmingly rebellious 16-year-old daughter, Shelley; her sometimes morally questionable work at a public relations firm; her gentle attitude towards her daffy ex-husband, who has returned to Texas (the family's original home); and her volunteer work with a neighborhood watch group. The story is neatly propelled by mounting conflicts in all of these situations. D.C.'s phenomenal violence is adroitly handled, first as background noise, later as an incident integral to the plot. Griffith's flair for dialogue and sharp characterization reaches beyond her heroine (Shelly and Dee sound and act exactly like teenagers), and her feather-light touch can alight on poignant notes, as when semi-heartbroken Rosemary wonders: "Could it be that we were of an age when life was more important than love?"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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