Book cover of Kinfolks

Kinfolks

by Kristin Hunter Lattany

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Pages: 276
Paperback
ISBN: 9780345417206






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Overview of Kinfolks

Now swinging on the wrong side of forty, solid-bedrock, tight-forever friends Patrice Barber and Cherry Hopkins came of age in the sixties, veterans of Snick, CORE, and God alone knows how many Black Power rallies. By turns ferocious and fearless, passionate and proud, they rejected anything that was sanctioned by society. Sororities? No, thank you. Hair straightening? Get outta here. Marriage? Are you outta your mind? They became single mothers by choice. So who would have dreamed that these two ex-revolutionaries would find themselves trying to compose a la-de-dah wedding invitation for their soon-to-be-married children? True, Cherry's beautiful, somewhat spoiled daughter Aisha - excuse me, that's Eliza now - is about to jump the broom with Patrice's son, Saint, a ruggedly handsome computer whiz who likens himself to a Lone Star, like Texas. But Patrice feels a flutter in her gut, sensing something is deeply wrong. Cherry's favorite phrase is "no problem," but she's got big ones. For a shattering truth from their radical past is about to rear its head and alter the course of all their lives, forcing Patrice and Cherry to hit the road on an urgent mission. While on the home front, label-conscious Aisha soon discovers life lessons beyond brand names, and Saint faces the sobering fact that even the brightest star needs a center to spin around.

Synopsis of Kinfolks

Now swinging on the wrong side of forty, solid-bedrock, tight-forever friends Patrice Barber and Cherry Hopkins came of age in the sixties, veterans of Snick, CORE, and God alone knows how many Black Power rallies. By turns ferocious and fearless, passionate and proud, they rejected anything that was sanctioned by society. Sororities? No, thank you. Hair straightening? Get outta here. Marriage? Are you outta your mind? They became single mothers by choice. So who would have dreamed that these two ex-revolutionaries would find themselves trying to compose a la-de-dah wedding invitation for their soon-to-be-married children? True, Cherry's beautiful, somewhat spoiled daughter Aisha - excuse me, that's Eliza now - is about to jump the broom with Patrice's son, Saint, a ruggedly handsome computer whiz who likens himself to a Lone Star, like Texas. But Patrice feels a flutter in her gut, sensing something is deeply wrong. Cherry's favorite phrase is "no problem," but she's got big ones. For a shattering truth from their radical past is about to rear its head and alter the course of all their lives, forcing Patrice and Cherry to hit the road on an urgent mission. While on the home front, label-conscious Aisha soon discovers life lessons beyond brand names, and Saint faces the sobering fact that even the brightest star needs a center to spin around.

Publishers Weekly

Two African American women whose premeditated single motherhood was a political statement 20 years ago animate Lattany's funny and poignant third novel. Patrice Barber and Cherry Hopkins, both in their late 40s, share a friendship dating back to the 1960s, when they participated in the civil rights movement. Patrice's son, Toussaint, and Cherry's daughter, Aisha, have been inseparable since childhood, and no one is surprised when they become engaged. In a contrived plot device, Patrice tumbles to the coincidence that Toussaint and Aisha share an allergy and an identical pattern of moles. Neither Cherry nor Patrice has ever admitted the identity of the men who sired her child. Confession time on both sides: the father of both turns out to be poet and revolutionary Eugene Dessalines Green, whose current whereabouts are unknown. The young people adjust to half-sibling status with what is almost a sense of relief, but Patrice determines to locate Green's other offspring to prevent other instances of inadvertent sibling romance. Enlisting Cherry's aid, Patrice ferrets out Green's other lovers, women like themselvesindependent, proud, intelligent and without regrets. Green's reappearance is yet another coincidence, but Lattany handles it well. Patrice and Cherry, their worldly-wise children and the magic man who reenters their lives are some of Lattany's (Guests in the Promised Land) most mature creations, and she uses them to demonstrate that true kinship resides in the heart rather than in the bloodline. Author tour. (Nov.)

About the Author, Kristin Hunter Lattany

Kristin Hunter Lattany received the Moonstone Black Writing Celebration Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. She is the author of nine published works of fiction, four for children and five for adults. All of her novels have been widely translated and well received. God Bless the Child (1964) won the Philadelphia Athenaeum Literary Award; The Landlord (1966) was made into a film in 1970; and her popular novel for teens, The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou (1968), received the Council on Interracial Books for Children Award, the National Conference of Christians and Jews Award, and many other awards.
Kristin Hunter Lattany has been a writer for the Pittsburgh Courier, an advertising copywriter, an information officer for the city of Philadelphia, and, until her retirement in 1995, an instructor in English at the University of Pennsylvania. A Delaware Valley native, she lives with her husband, John Lattany, in southern New Jersey.

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Editorials

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly

Two African American women whose premeditated single motherhood was a political statement 20 years ago animate Lattany's funny and poignant third novel. Patrice Barber and Cherry Hopkins, both in their late 40s, share a friendship dating back to the 1960s, when they participated in the civil rights movement. Patrice's son, Toussaint, and Cherry's daughter, Aisha, have been inseparable since childhood, and no one is surprised when they become engaged. In a contrived plot device, Patrice tumbles to the coincidence that Toussaint and Aisha share an allergy and an identical pattern of moles. Neither Cherry nor Patrice has ever admitted the identity of the men who sired her child. Confession time on both sides: the father of both turns out to be poet and revolutionary Eugene Dessalines Green, whose current whereabouts are unknown. The young people adjust to half-sibling status with what is almost a sense of relief, but Patrice determines to locate Green's other offspring to prevent other instances of inadvertent sibling romance. Enlisting Cherry's aid, Patrice ferrets out Green's other lovers, women like themselvesindependent, proud, intelligent and without regrets. Green's reappearance is yet another coincidence, but Lattany handles it well. Patrice and Cherry, their worldly-wise children and the magic man who reenters their lives are some of Lattany's (Guests in the Promised Land) most mature creations, and she uses them to demonstrate that true kinship resides in the heart rather than in the bloodline. Author tour. (Nov.)

School Library Journal

YAA delightfully engaging story. Cherry Hopkins and Patrice Barber, two middle-aged African-American women, discover they share more than their youthful experiences during their Freedom Riding days of activism and Black Power rallies. Single mothers by choice, they realize while preparing for the wedding of their very traditional offspring, that these young people share the same father. This shock of discovery sets Cherry and Patrice off on a mission to locate the rest of the kinfolk that may exist and the man, Gene Green, who started it all. Meanwhile, the youthful lovers, now turned brother and sister, find their father, blind and alcoholic, living on the streets. Humor and pathos mingle throughout the everyday trials of living for these likable, creative, determined, middle-class females and their equally talented and resourceful children. The coming together of the generations, the merging together of contrasting values, and the richness of African-American culture and traditions make this story an excellent addition to YA collections.Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

Kirkus Reviews

The author of five previous (and much praised) novels, including The Landlord (first published in 1966, but made into a movie in 1993), Lattany here portrays the changing lives and times of two feisty African-American women in their 50s—former 1960s political radicals, currently struggling to make ends meet and launch their two convention-hugging offspring into the world.

As the story opens, the kids, Aisha and Toussaint—daughter and son, respectively, of old friends and single-mothers-by-choice Cherry Hopkins and Patrice Barber—are engaged to be married to each other. But Patrice, a queen-sized earth mother with a shrewd streak, senses a serious problem: The kids, who have always looked alike and been weirdly similar in disposition and tastes, also, it turns out, share an allergy to strawberries and a mole beneath their left ear. Could they possibly share the same father, Patrice wonders—a dashing, debauched, highly educated black poet named Eugene Green, whom all the "brilliant, achieving, liberated young sisters" of the '60s coveted? Yes, it turns out, after Patrice and Cherry compare notes on the subject; and immediately they decide to take to the road and hunt up Eugene's presumed other progeny—their kids' presumptive brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, Toussaint and Aisha, furious with Patrice and Cherry for screwing up their lives yet again, take up with a homeless drunk named Gene, a charming, mordantly funny ex-professor who teaches them that joy can be found beyond rigid social conventions. Of course, Gene is Eugene, their father—as they all learn when Cherry and Patrice return home with a passel of women and children who have also been touched by Gene.

Heartwarming, with vivid characters (especially among the children), but marred by a plot that's silly and full of holes.

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