Picks and Pans Review: Big Girls Don't Cry
by Connie Briscoe
This novel is so stuffed with good intentions, it seems uncharitable to complain that it falls short. Briscoe wants to describe the many hurdles a smart, sensitive black woman must clear in order to have it all in America. But advancing sociological themes doesn't exempt a novelist from a duty to provide compelling characters and plot.
Protagonist Naomi Jefferson—a middle-class black girl growing up in Washington—never really comes alive. And her boyfriends seem like stand-ins for varieties of black men rather than distinct personalities.
Briscoe is to be applauded for describing a world—the black bourgeoisie of the 1960s and '70s—not often championed in fiction. But she does herself, and her book, a disservice by trying more to educate her readers than to entertain and involve them. (HarperCollins, $23)
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