Saturday, June 26, 2010

32 Candles-Ernessa T. Carter

32 Candles
Ernessa T. Carter
Amistad, Jun 22 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061957840

African American Davidia Jones grows up on Glass, Mississippi with a mother who does nothing for her. By the time she is six she knows the smell of an alcoholic and the noise of sex. The only thing good about being especially dark skinned is that the bruises don’t readily show. As a young teen, already a victim of neglect and abuse, Davie assumes she is ugly; enhanced by the cruel comments at school where she is called Monkey Night. Her unrequited attraction to the top jock James Farrell augments her feelings of the ugliest non in Mississippi.

In 1984, fifteen years old Davie sees Sixteen Candles in the only theater in town. She cries about the ending in which a loser wins and decides to leave Glass. Davie gets a ride out of town with a long haul truck driver. In Los Angeles, Davie obtains work as a 1940s chanteuse as she reinvents herself. All is great until James arrives at the club where she performs. He fails to recognize the thirtyish Davie, which hurts her, but he clearly wants her. Davie seeks revenge for her mistreatment in Glass so she hides who she was and plans to break his heart. She failed to calculate either falling in love again or Mississippi mud returning to destroy her chance for that Molly Ringwald ending.

Tthis is an entertaining at times intense look at an abused bullied child as a thirty something adult. Davie is terrific holding the tale together with her prime desires fighting one another since James reentered her life; though in some ways for the first time as their high school spheres were as far apart as the sun (him) and relegated Pluto (her). Although the story line has no major twists, readers will enjoy 32 Candles rooting for Davie.

Harriet Klausner

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