Reviews

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Adult/High School-Joe and Louise and their 17-year-old daughter, Shay, are a well-respected family in a close-knit, working-class, black neighborhood of Philadelphia in 1969. Joe is a frustrated jazz saxophonist who gave up his musical career to please his stern and domineering wife early in their relationship, but now he rebels in quiet ways-such as having an affair with a beautiful newcomer to Cecil Street. They live next door to Shay's friend Neet, whose mother, Alberta, is a devoted follower of an extremist religion. The woman tries to make Neet conform to her strict lifestyle, but her emotionally scarred daughter sneaks out of the house regularly. When she ends up pregnant, she decides to abort the baby. Since abortions are not yet legal, Neet falls victim to a botched job by another teen. The author sensitively depicts this traumatic event, as well as pivotal events in other characters' lives that explain the complex, secret, and often painful connections among them. This richly poetic novel offers a vivid depiction of urban life during the early post-civil-rights era. The theme of how abortion rights (or the lack thereof) can impact the lives of teens could serve as a journal-writing prompt. Some students may also benefit from reading about how these characters struggle through sexual molestation or the death of a beloved parent, yet eventually heal. Students who liked Tumbling (Morrow, 1996) will find this story compelling.-Joyce Fay Fletcher, Rippon Middle School, Prince William County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Cecil Street is a quiet, tree-lined haven in West Philadelphia, a place where everyone knows everyone else, a place removed from the turmoil and violence of the late 1960s. Yet the residents of Cecil Street have their problems. Joe and Louise's marriage is strained; Johnetta's sexy niece has arrived, ripe for trouble; and teenaged Shay tries to help best friend Neet deal with an unwanted pregnancy. When Neet's abortion goes tragically wrong, everyone on the street must rally around her, while Joe, Louise, and Neet's mother, Alberta, discover how their pasts have now drawn them together. McKinney-Whetstone's portrayal of African American family life is sensitive and compassionate, with characters who love, work, live, and die without veering into soap opera. As in her previous novels (e.g., Tumbling), ordinary people find a strength in themselves and others that enables them to live and love more fully. Recommended for all public libraries.-Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Wistful, melodious, contemplative, McKinney-Whetstone's prose feels inspired by the tenor sax central to this story. It's the summer of 1969 on Cecil Street in West Philadelphia, and "even though the block had long ago made the transition from white to colored to Negro to Black is Beautiful, the city still provided street cleaning twice a week in the summer when the children took to the outside and there was the familiar smack, smack of the double-Dutch rope." Neet and Shay, 17-year-old neighbors, are as close as that double rope, and when Neet's illegal abortion goes terribly wrong, Shay is distraught-especially since the procedure had been her idea. Shay's father, Joe, offers tender, paternal wisdom: "Be sad 'cause your best friend is going through a trauma right now, that's a clean, honest sadness. Don't dirty it up with a bunch of guilt that you choosing to feel." Dealing with his own sadness and guilt is harder. Joe loves his wife, Louise, but giving up the sax soon after they married turned out to be a bigger sacrifice than he realized, and getting straight with himself is a moral, sexual, musical adventure. McKinney-Whetstone's fourth novel (after 1999's Blues Dancing) is remarkable for the rich development of all its characters, notably Neet's mother, Alberta. She first appears as a bleak woman who torments Neet with a cruel religiosity, but her backstory of forced prostitution reveals more about her; her final sacrifice redeems her. Meanwhile, Deucie, the mother who abandoned Alberta, has sneaked into Joe and Louise's cellar to die. Joe plays his sax, harmoniously connecting and resolving the separate story lines. Agent, Suzanne Gluck. (Apr. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Two block parties held in a middle-class black neighborhood in west Philadelphia in the summer of 1969 frame the intricate complexities of neighboring families.oe, a steadily employed family man, is occasionally haunted by a longing for his former life as a saxophone player. His wife, Louise, is watching her beauty fade and questioning choices she andoe made in their youth. Their teenage daughter, Shay, struggles to help her best friend and next-door neighbor cope with an unwanted pregnancy and a fanatically religious mother. All the while, a mentally ill woman is living in their basement. Half-clothed, dying of cirrhosis, looking for her long-lost daughter, and taking the emotional temperature of the block, she unknowingly threatens to unearth secrets. McKinney-Whetstone offers finely drawn characters and an evocative setting while exploring human relations in a close-knit black community. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Adult/High School-Joe and Louise and their 17-year-old daughter, Shay, are a well-respected family in a close-knit, working-class, black neighborhood of Philadelphia in 1969. Joe is a frustrated jazz saxophonist who gave up his musical career to please his stern and domineering wife early in their relationship, but now he rebels in quiet ways-such as having an affair with a beautiful newcomer to Cecil Street. They live next door to Shay's friend Neet, whose mother, Alberta, is a devoted follower of an extremist religion. The woman tries to make Neet conform to her strict lifestyle, but her emotionally scarred daughter sneaks out of the house regularly. When she ends up pregnant, she decides to abort the baby. Since abortions are not yet legal, Neet falls victim to a botched job by another teen. The author sensitively depicts this traumatic event, as well as pivotal events in other characters' lives that explain the complex, secret, and often painful connections among them. This richly poetic novel offers a vivid depiction of urban life during the early post-civil-rights era. The theme of how abortion rights (or the lack thereof) can impact the lives of teens could serve as a journal-writing prompt. Some students may also benefit from reading about how these characters struggle through sexual molestation or the death of a beloved parent, yet eventually heal. Students who liked Tumbling (Morrow, 1996) will find this story compelling.-Joyce Fay Fletcher, Rippon Middle School, Prince William County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Cecil Street is a quiet, tree-lined haven in West Philadelphia, a place where everyone knows everyone else, a place removed from the turmoil and violence of the late 1960s. Yet the residents of Cecil Street have their problems. Joe and Louise's marriage is strained; Johnetta's sexy niece has arrived, ripe for trouble; and teenaged Shay tries to help best friend Neet deal with an unwanted pregnancy. When Neet's abortion goes tragically wrong, everyone on the street must rally around her, while Joe, Louise, and Neet's mother, Alberta, discover how their pasts have now drawn them together. McKinney-Whetstone's portrayal of African American family life is sensitive and compassionate, with characters who love, work, live, and die without veering into soap opera. As in her previous novels (e.g., Tumbling), ordinary people find a strength in themselves and others that enables them to live and love more fully. Recommended for all public libraries.-Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Wistful, melodious, contemplative, McKinney-Whetstone's prose feels inspired by the tenor sax central to this story. It's the summer of 1969 on Cecil Street in West Philadelphia, and "even though the block had long ago made the transition from white to colored to Negro to Black is Beautiful, the city still provided street cleaning twice a week in the summer when the children took to the outside and there was the familiar smack, smack of the double-Dutch rope." Neet and Shay, 17-year-old neighbors, are as close as that double rope, and when Neet's illegal abortion goes terribly wrong, Shay is distraught-especially since the procedure had been her idea. Shay's father, Joe, offers tender, paternal wisdom: "Be sad 'cause your best friend is going through a trauma right now, that's a clean, honest sadness. Don't dirty it up with a bunch of guilt that you choosing to feel." Dealing with his own sadness and guilt is harder. Joe loves his wife, Louise, but giving up the sax soon after they married turned out to be a bigger sacrifice than he realized, and getting straight with himself is a moral, sexual, musical adventure. McKinney-Whetstone's fourth novel (after 1999's Blues Dancing) is remarkable for the rich development of all its characters, notably Neet's mother, Alberta. She first appears as a bleak woman who torments Neet with a cruel religiosity, but her backstory of forced prostitution reveals more about her; her final sacrifice redeems her. Meanwhile, Deucie, the mother who abandoned Alberta, has sneaked into Joe and Louise's cellar to die. Joe plays his sax, harmoniously connecting and resolving the separate story lines. Agent, Suzanne Gluck. (Apr. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Two block parties held in a middle-class black neighborhood in west Philadelphia in the summer of 1969 frame the intricate complexities of neighboring families.oe, a steadily employed family man, is occasionally haunted by a longing for his former life as a saxophone player. His wife, Louise, is watching her beauty fade and questioning choices she andoe made in their youth. Their teenage daughter, Shay, struggles to help her best friend and next-door neighbor cope with an unwanted pregnancy and a fanatically religious mother. All the while, a mentally ill woman is living in their basement. Half-clothed, dying of cirrhosis, looking for her long-lost daughter, and taking the emotional temperature of the block, she unknowingly threatens to unearth secrets. McKinney-Whetstone offers finely drawn characters and an evocative setting while exploring human relations in a close-knit black community. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist