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When All Hell Breaks Loose: A Novel

Spencer, Camika

84 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0375503404 / ISBN 13: 9780375503405
Published by Villard
Used Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Wonder Book (Frederick, MD, U.S.A.)

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First edition copy. . Very Good dust jacket. Review slip laid-in. Bookseller Inventory # SB16B-00581

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Bibliographic Details

Title: When All Hell Breaks Loose: A Novel

Publisher: Villard

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


It's a Sunday morning, and while most people are thinking about getting the paper and breakfast, Gregory Alston has something other than eggs on his mind. Today he's going to propose to Adrian Jenkins, his girlfriend of three years. But when he actually does, all hell breaks loose and he gets a lot more than he bargained for. His mother returns from France, where she's been living as a jazz singer since leaving her family in Texas nearly twenty years ago. His Holy Roller sister, Shreese, complains that Adrian is too "worldly" for him, even though she herself is falling for the shady, charismatic pastor of her church. And his boys--who run the gamut from player to buffoon--react to the news of his engagement with grief and disbelief. And if that's not enough, he's got Adrian, who has more skeletons in her closet than a haunted house. What's a brother to do?
When All Hell Breaks Loose is a debut novel about black twenty-somethings that is fast and funny. It's also a peek into the minds of young black men. The author, Camika Spencer, won't just have you laughing--she'll have you looking in the mirror to see if she's talking about you.


When Gregory Alston proposes to Adrian, his girlfriend of three years, he thinks it's the last chapter of the story, like the happy ending of a fairy tale. But his troubles are just beginning. What with the wedding preparations, his churchy sister Shreese's unsettling new love affair, and the feelings stirred by the return of his jazz singer mother from her long residence in France, Greg doesn't seem to see much of his fiancée anymore. And for some reason, she isn't complaining. When All Hell Breaks Loose is a fast, fun novel written in a light, conversational style, a good introduction to the new black fiction for readers who might otherwise be looking to television or movies for engaging, three-dimensional images of young African Americans. Alston's male friends--from the dread-wearing Jamal to the foul-mouthed Phil and the woman-hating player Tim--are especially well drawn, and Greg's conflicted emotions about his mother, who abandoned the family to pursue her musical career, will strike home for anyone who knows a wounded young man. "I don't know," Greg muses,

Sometimes I think that because I got my degree and ain't slangin' drugs or laid up with children all over the city calling me Daddy, all the hurt and damage I felt as a boy just aren't there. But every time I come across a situation where a mother is not in her child's everyday life or am faced with my own personal dilemma with my mother, I just want to start running. Running so fast, until the wind can no longer get to my lungs quick enough to keep me standing.
Camika Spencer's fledgling effort was originally self-published, then picked up by a major publisher when the buzz reached New York. It still needs a little editing, and there are no great lessons in the book--nothing in Greg's past could have prepared him for the betrayal in his future, just as the betrayal can't teach him anything worth knowing. But the quick pace and lively characterization show the author's promise. --Regina Marler

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