Picks and Pans Review: All I Need to Get By

updated 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Sophronia Scott

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Crita Carter is a successful young professional with caring friends, her own accounting business and a spacious Harlem apartment. There's no reason for her to dwell on her old life back home in Ohio. No reason, that is, until her father finally agrees to see a doctor about his persistent cough. While much of what follows after she returns to her family is predictable, Scott's first novel supplies a few surprises, most surrounding Crita's older brother Line, a drug addict. The dialogue is over-wrought in spots, and Crita initially comes off as a bit of a drama queen.

Encountering her sister-in-law for the first time in five years, Crita feels "a tug in my heart that makes me desperate. I am a castaway, and she is the solid rock I need to stand on." But Scott (a former PEOPLE editor) is deft at depicting drug addiction and its effect on a family that's too strong to breakā€”but not strong enough to fully face reality. She has elevated an otherwise stock family drama, making her a writer worth watching.


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