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Sister, Sister

It takes guts for a male writer to tackle the trials and tribulations of upwardly mobile African American women. But that's what Dickey does, with mixed results, in his first novel, a high-spirited celebration of black sisterhood. Southern California sisters Valerie and Inda are close. Fair-skinned Valerie is the younger of the two and takes after their white mother in appearance. After six years of lousy marriage to Walter, she knows she's miserable but doesn't know any role other than that of satellite eternally in orbit around a husband. Inda, who inherited their father's dark skin and features, has a stable career, but a divorce from her white husband has made her pessimistic about men of any color, a situation exacerbated by flagrant evidence of her current lover's infidelities. Inda meets Chiquita, a young flight attendant, whom she instinctively likes, and their friendship is cast when they discover they both have been simultaneously deceived by Raymond, who is engaged to a third woman. Chiquita is drawn into the girls' tight-knit family as she falls for their brother, Brown, and learns something from them about courage and love. In recovering from their individual disappointments, Valerie, Inda and Chiquita risk new relationships, strengthened by one another's humor, candor and understanding. The book suffers somewhat from multiple points of view and an unevenness of characterization. Inda and Chiquita, who are given first-person voices, are bold and sassy. Valerie, whose sections are all third-person narrative, is sketchy by comparison. Though flawed, Dickey's novel brims with humor, outrageousness and an understanding of the generosity of affection.

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