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"Riveting. . . . So nicely avoids the sentimentality that swirls around the subject matter. I am as impressed by its structural strength as by the searing and expertly imagined scenes."
--Toni Morrison, author of "Beloved"
"The sharpness of the prose and power of the story make it hard to stop reading even the most brutal scenes . . . The story feels real perhaps because it's familiar . . . Or maybe, as Frey points out, the story is too vivid to be read purely as fiction. But in this "Precious"-style novel, genre is the least of our concerns."
"This is a story that cuts across all race and social strata in its need to be told."
--"The Dallas Morning News"
"The Warmest December" is the incredibly moving story of one Brooklyn family and the alcoholism that determined years of their lives. Narrated by Kenzie Lowe, a young woman reminiscent of Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John, as she visits her dying father and finds that choices she once thought beyond her control are very much hers to make.
Bernice L. McFadden is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-12-12
- Reviewer: Staff
McFadden’s reissued second novel takes an unflinching look at the corrosive nature of alcoholism. At 34, Kenzie Lowe is a recovering alcoholic who lives with her mother, Delia, in a Brooklyn housing project. She finds herself at her father’s deathbed and recalls all the drunken abuse that she; her brother, Malcolm; and Delia endured. Her father, Hy-Lo, beat Delia if the dishes weren’t done, trained Kenzie to buy his vodka, and whipped his children with belts. The fights grew bloodier as Delia started drinking and Kenzie and Malcolm began to fight back. Temporary respite came with Grandmother Mable, but Delia, “afraid to stay, but more afraid to go,” always returned home with her children. Still, as Kenzie stares at her father’s desiccated body in the hospital, she feels an unwanted tug of forgiveness and, through the kind intervention of a nurse, tries to leave her past behind. This is not a story of easy redemption; Kenzie, unlike the rest of her family, escapes because of her strength, courage, and a touch of luck. Though McFadden writes candidly about the treacherous hold of addiction, the power of her story is lessened by wooden dialogue and hazy characterizations. Agent: Jimmy Vines, the Vines Agency. (Feb.)