Picks and Pans Review: Big Girls Don't Cry
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)