03 March 2010

Upstate; Kalisha Buckhanon

Upstate: A Novel Upstate: A Novel by Kalisha Buckhanon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ooooh I wish there were a half-star option because this just missed being a 5-star! I've always liked epistolary novels, and this one, chronicling the relationship between Antonio and Natasha is a great example of the genre.

Starting just after Antonio's arrest for killing his father (did he do it? and if so, why?) and ending nine years later, both characters grow in unexpected ways. The pain and despair, longing and general late teenage angst is magnified through the lens of the separation. Natasha's letters go from being very Harlem 4 Life in tone and subject to being a married lawyer with a degree from U. Chicago and then U. PA., while Antonio's stay at the same level in terms of tone, but it's clear that he is growing as well. His essay on The Catcher in the Rye was one of the best I've read (almost made me want to re-read the book, which I didn't like the first time I read it - and please, no comments about that!). By the end, though, it was clear that they were no longer really involved, except through the phantom of their youth and being each other's first love.

Why the 4.5 and not 5? Because the novel does end on an upbeat, and there's a part of me that felt it was just a little too neat, too pat an ending.

Copy provided by publisher.

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