All My Friends Have Dark Brown Eyes

All My Friends Have Dark Brown Eyes

by D. J. Berrien

Paperback

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Overview

At a time when pop culture has declared that virginity does not necessarily define virtue, and drug use is seen as merely a means of expanding the mind, black folk are buoyed by the triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement, and the financial benefits of solid union jobs. They are lured into believing that the American Dream is theirs for the taking. With a lot of hard work, and a backbone of steel, they too can have a piece of the pie.

Bob and Cora Lee Herman are among those seduced by the appeal of middle class trappings. With their three children in tow-Bobby III, Daisy Mae, and little Wayne-along with Mama Lola and her cat Bobo, the Herman's leave the inner city, where dreams often die amidst the squalor of poverty and the burden of despair, to begin a new life in a neighborhood called Westlake.

Westlake is much like any middle class American neighborhood where neat rows of single family homes line each block; except that Westlake is located in Chicago, a city well known for its racially segregated communities. Thanks to a money-grubbing realtor with a bright idea, Westlake's racial identity has begun to change. By the time the Herman's arrive, much to the chagrin of their new neighbors, who are not at all pleased to see them coming, Westlake is sprinkled with color.

The story unfolds around Bob and Cora Lee's petite and quick-witted daughter, Daisy Mae. She is at a stage in life where waning childhood and impending womanhood collide. She is curious about sex, and about love, and will lie every now and again in order to explore, if only vicariously, the meaning of the two. Daisy has her heart set on becoming Ms. Popular when she enters high school in the coming fall. She hopes that, for the first time in her life, she and her best friend Faye will be members of the in-crowd in much the same way that her big brother Bobby is. But the move plucks her from all that is familiar, and reduces her hopes and dreams to nothing more than fantasy.

As Daisy and her family settle into Westlake, the troubling issue of race begins to color her world. She tries to fit in at a school filled with people who don't look like her, don't think like her, and don't want her kind around.

Kalyn McKenzie is a sheltered only child living in the house next door. With the arrival of the Herman's, her parents bicker constantly about how to deal with the rapidly changing neighborhood. The issue pits them against each other, and turns their happy home into a battleground where fear makes one wants to flee; while the other, bound by a dark and secret past, determines to remain rooted. The McKenzie's find a common ground in what they expect from Kalyn. They tell her repeatedly to stay away from those people. Their presence will bring nothing but trouble. But Kalyn's curiosity is piqued. On one terribly dark and snowy night she disregards their wishes, and seeks shelter with the very people she's been told to stay away from. Thus begins her struggle with a culture that dictates how she should behave, and what she should believe, but has little effect on how she actually feels.

While Kalyn sorts through these issues, Daisy straddles between two worlds-the one of her past, and the one of her present-and neither, it seems, has a place for her.

The two families writhe with the affliction of racism as the girls attempt to navigate the huge divide that separates them. When a conflict between them results in a gun being fired, life is brought face to face with death. A barely tolerable situation becomes totally impossible until one of them happens upon a solution. It is an answer to prayers, and no one on the outside need be the wiser. But someone is the wiser. And that someone decides to judge. They take the gavel in hand, and slam it down decisively, declaring the final ruling. Is it justice, or is it revenge? Or is it simply a twist of fate?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781432712228
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Publication date: 07/14/2009
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)

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