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From the Hardcover edition.
This sequel to Sweet Thang (Delacorte, 2006) revisits the strong, supportive African-American Upshaw family. It's 1976, and 14-year-old Charmaine has an attic bedroom all to herself and a polite, smart, and cultured boyfriend, Raymond, who appreciates her beauty (entering her into a modeling contest) while being equally attracted to her brains. It's practically teenage bliss until Mr. Upshaw's musical, ex-con brother turns up. The rest of the family, especially precocious cousin Tracy John, wholeheartedly welcomes him. Initially, Maine distrusts Uncle E due to past indiscretions. Animosity increases when he's given the attic. Dreams of a possible modeling career (and its accompanying fame/wealth) cause a temporary lapse in Maine's judgment. She alienates Raymond, tries her family, and neglects her friends. Fortunately, she remembers who she really is and, after some snooping, realizes that she's misjudged her uncle. Second chances abound. Aside from her model good looks, Whittenberg's protagonist is witty, intelligent, self-possessed, and usually modest. Not infallible, Maine occasionally slips into self-consciousness or self-absorption. Endearingly cheeky, Tracy John is as fleshed out and worldly wise as his cousin. The family's personal trials, triumphs, individual growth, and many personalities are the book's focus and its heart. Zinger dialogue and clever narration promise laughs and an enjoyable read, but some readers might feel compelled to read Sweet Thang for better insight.-Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ