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Shirt off His Back: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

After a brief relationship in college, Catherine and Terry found themselves the parents of twin baby girls; Catherine, a reluctant mother from the start, abandoned the children for a successful career overseas. With the help of family and friends, Terry has raised the twins by himself, and now, eleven years later, is about to expand his family again by marrying Jackie, herself a single parent. Suddenly, realizing she needs a better family image...
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Shirt off His Back: A Novel

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Overview

After a brief relationship in college, Catherine and Terry found themselves the parents of twin baby girls; Catherine, a reluctant mother from the start, abandoned the children for a successful career overseas. With the help of family and friends, Terry has raised the twins by himself, and now, eleven years later, is about to expand his family again by marrying Jackie, herself a single parent. Suddenly, realizing she needs a better family image to advance her career, Catherine shows up and demands custody of the twins.

        With a nasty battle developing, Terry teams up with his best friend, Roland, a powerful attorney, to fight for custody of his children. As Catherine pits the twins against each other, Terry struggles to keep his cool.

        With an engaging blend of humor and drama, and characters who seem as if they live right down the block, Parry "EbonySatin" Brown has written an entertaining novel of friendship, romance, and one man's determination to keep his family together.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this debut, originally self-published and one of the first works in the new Striver's Row imprint, a devoted single father must fight to keep his daughters when his ex-wife breezes in and demands custody. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375506543
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/15/2001
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 757,998
  • File size: 338 KB

Meet the Author

Parry "EbonySatin" Brown is the coproducer and host of a radio talk show and is also a motivational speaker. She is the author of Sexy Doesn't Have a Dress Size and lives in L.A.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Terry rushed through the aisles of the supermarket, realizing the girls had to be picked up from school in twenty minutes. Why weren't there ever enough hours in the day? he thought. Between work, Alisa, and Ariana, there is hardly time to breathe. But hey, breathing is an option, right? The line was so long, he feared he would be late.

"How am I ever going to make it out of here to get to the school on time?" Terry wondered out loud.

Just then, a young woman with a warm smile pointed at him and said, "I can help you over here." Miraculously, Terry was soon out of the market and headed for the school.

With not a moment to spare, Terry pulled up at the usual pickup point. Alisa pulled Ariana by the hand as she ran toward the car. "Daddy, Daddy, I got second place in the essay contest!"Alisa said breathlessly.

Terry popped off his seat belt and sprang from the car. He ran to the passenger side of the car to hug his older daughter as she leapt into his waiting arms. "Congratulations, baby! I am so proud of you!" Terry turned to his other daughter, "How did you do with the artwork you presented with the story, Ariana?" Terry asked as he let Alisa slip from his arms.

"I won first place," she stated simply as Terry looked into her big, brown eyes.

He hugged her tightly and shouted, "Alright! My girls, the superstars! I am so proud of both of you. I was going to make meat loaf tonight, but this definitely calls for tacos."

Both girls yelled, "YES!" and high-fived each other.

As he stood in front of the elementary school, Terry felt so full that tears welled up in his eyes. "Get in the car, my superstars. Let's stop at the bakery and buy a cake to celebrate!" The happy bunch scrambled into the black Ford Explorer and sped away singing along with their favorite old Temptations song, "My Girl."

The girls were identical twins, yet so unique. Their physical features were the same, down to the birthmarks on their right forearms, but their personalities were quite different. Alisa was outgoing and vibrant, while Ariana, who was only four minutes younger, was quiet and even-tempered. Since Terry had brought them home from the hospital nearly eleven years before, he had never regretted his decision. Catherine, their mother, was a woman he had dated for three years on and off right out of high school. When she became pregnant, she announced she had no intention of keeping the child. Catherine was in her third year of college and felt she had no time for a baby. She threatened to abort the baby every time she was angry at him, but through some miracle she never followed through. He had pleaded with her not to kill his baby and said that if she delivered the child, he would raise it. Then, four weeks earlier than her scheduled due date, she called him from the hospital. She told him that she had given birth to twins and that if he did not want them, she would sign the adoption papers in two hours. He rushed to the hospital, and while looking through the glass at the two screaming baby girls, he fell in love.

The girls chattered all the way home and into the evening, and although on occasion the giggles were a bit much to handle, Terry so much enjoyed seeing these two very special young females in his life so happy that the noise hardly bothered him. Toward the end of the evening, the phone rang, and Alisa leapt for it as usual and sang, "Helloooo?"
The look on her face told Terry exactly who it was.

"Hi, Catherine, you want to talk to my dad? . . . Oh, we're doing okay. We won an essay contest that required artwork today, and we were about to have cake to celebrate. When are you coming back to Texas to see us? . . . Oh. Well, we'll write you to let you know what we want for Christmas."

It was their mother. Alisa's gaze shot toward Ariana, who got up from the couch and headed for the upstairs bathroom as soon as she realized their mother was on the other end of the phone.

"No, Ari is in the bathroom. You want to talk to Dad?"

Anger welled up in Terry's chest as he slowly walked toward Alisa to take the phone. How dare she disappoint them again, he thought. "Hello, Catherine. How's it going? It's been a while. How's life treating you these days?" Terry struggled to keep his tone even. His internal voice was screaming and cursing. He had to remain civil for the girls' sake. "Very glad to hear it . . . Oh yes, I get the child support checks on time every month. You are very generous . . . So you won't be here for Christmas this year? I thought it was all set." Terry could feel every beat of his heart in the palm of his hands as he tightened his grip on the receiver. "No, they haven't really expressed what they want. You would really have to know them in order to shop for them, especially for clothes . . . Yeah, you could send a check, and I'll be glad to pick the gifts up for you . . . Of course, they will know it comes from you." Terry spoke the words through clenched teeth. "No, she hasn't come down yet . . . Okay, I'll tell her. If it isn't too much of a bother, let us know when you'll be back in the States." His words dripped with sarcasm. He hung up the phone without another word.

The hurt on Alisa's face was undeniable as she stared at her dad, but she only said, "Can I cut the cake?"

"But Dad, she did it last time!" Ariana whined as she descended the stairs.

"She's right, Lisa, but I'll tell you what—you can scoop the ice cream," Terry said with a broad smile, knowing that would please his older daughter.

The remainder of the evening was quiet, and as the girls were about to climb into bed, Ariana called to her dad. "Can you come in and tuck us in, Daddy?"

"Tuck you in? Now, that is an unusual request. Wasn't it you who said you were too mature for that?" Terry said with a chuckle.

"What we really want to do is talk to you, Dad," Alisa volunteered. "We've been talking and we know that Catherine is sending us a check for Christmas, again, and you want to know what to buy us with the money, right? So we were thinking that this year we want you to buy two airline tickets."

"Oh, and where do you two plan on going? Do you want to go see Catherine in Spain? Her checks are considerable, but I am not sure it will cover two international airline tickets," Terry said, a little sad that they wanted to be away from him during Christmas vacation.

"Oh no! Daddy, we would never leave you for Christmas," Ariana interrupted.

"We want you to buy tickets for you and Ms. Rogers to go to the Bahamas or Hawaii or somewhere romantic," Alisa chimed in.

"Neither one of you ever goes anywhere without us or Michael and Michelle," Ariana chirped.

"We want you to go alone, but there is one condition: you can't go for Christmas, you have to go for New Year's,"Alisa concluded.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Reading Group Guide

After a brief relationship in college, Catherine and Terry found themselves the parents of twin baby girls; Catherine, a reluctant mother from the start, abandoned the children for a successful career overseas. With the help of family and friends, Terry has raised the twins by himself, and now, eleven years later, is about to expand his family again by marrying Jackie, herself a single parent. Suddenly, realizing she needs a better family image to advance her career, Catherine shows up and demands custody of the twins.

        With a nasty battle developing, Terry teams up with his best friend, Roland, a powerful attorney, to fight for custody of his children. As Catherine pits the twins against each other, Terry struggles to keep his cool.

        With an engaging blend of humor and drama, and characters who seem as if they live right down the block, Parry "EbonySatin" Brown has written an entertaining novel of friendship, romance, and one man's determination to keep his family together.

1. Alisa's and Ariana's contrary behavior with their mother during Christmas reflects the twins' mixed feelings about her sudden reappearance. Their excitement at seeing her and their anger at her neglect are expressed by each twin; Alisa can't wait to see Catherine, while Ariana can't stand to be around her. Why do the twins have such different reactions? How much does their father influence their feelings about their mother? Which twin do you most sympathize with?

2. In many ways Terry's children have helped make him who he is; likewise for Jackie. Their children, they admit, are the bestthings that have happened to them. How have their children shaped their lives? How different would they be had they not had their twins?

3. It is clear Jackie and her girlfriends think Terry is great husband material; after all, not only is he a single father who cares deeply for his children, he is exceptionally kind to family and friends alike. Is Terry unusual? How easy would it be to find Terry's equivalent in the real world?

4. After Catherine threatens to take Alisa and Ariana away from him, Terry's contact with her is, at times, unyielding and bitter. His initial reaction to her request to see the twins on Christmas is outright refusal. Is Terry right to treat Catherine the way she treats him? Are his actions justified, or is he stooping to her level? If she had been a more
sympathetic character, do you think Terry would have been more willing to share custody?

5. Despite Terry's clear preference for her size, Jackie often feels unhappy about her weight. Her obsession with it increases during times of stress — when she seems to feel particularly insecure. Should she lose weight? What is holding Jackie back from accepting herself as she is? What is Brown showing us about our obsession with weight?

6. Although Catherine makes it clear she is only seeking custody of the twins for professional gain, she displays a few instances of motherly concern. Do you think Catherine regrets her ruthlessness in any way? Do you have any sympathy for her character? Why does she choose to sever all ties with her daughters at the end?

7. While Roland and Cedes have known each other for years, it is not until Roland sees Cedes's vulnerability that he becomes attracted to her. Why is this? What does he finally come to understand about her? About himself?

8. Cedes envies Jackie and Terry's relationship but has been unable to replicate it for herself; she has not been able to find a man with whom she can have a long-term relationship. What changes in Cedes allow her to see Roland in a new light? Had she pursued a relationship with Charles, do you think it would have been successful?

9. Roland and Terry employ some pretty dirty tactics to expose Catherine's vicious nature. Is this fair? Could they have won the case without Wendell/Howard's "undercover" work?

10. Together with their grandparents, siblings, and friends, Jackie and Terry's extended family form a strong, supportive unit. How do different family members step in to help one another? How important is family in providing support when times get tough?

11. As the matriarch of Jackie and Terry's family, Momma C dispenses wisdom and love with her own special way with words. What are some of her more memorable "proverbs"? How essential is she in the lives of her children and grandchildren? Describe the differences between Momma C and Catherine.

12. Even though Jackie and Terry are deeply in love with each other, Jackie seems apprehensive about accepting Terry's marriage proposal and Terry is equally shy about asking her. Why is it so difficult for them? Have their past relationships with the parents of their children affected them? How hard is it to enter into a new relationship after leaving a bad one?

13. Love is one of the central themes of The Shirt off His Back and it takes many forms: fatherly and motherly love, romantic love, brotherly and sisterly love. Those who do not experience these kinds of love are unable to do so because of selfishness and distrust; we see this mostly in Catherine and, to a much lesser extent, in Roland and Cedes. What emotions are necessary for love to flourish? What is Brown telling us about love of self and love for others?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2001

    A must read for African American Women

    This just confirms for women especially single women with kids that there are some good brothers left in this world.....This is a must read...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2006

    Very good read

    This was a good family book, plus it gives the MEN who are doing right their props. Catherine got what she deserved. I'm happy Terry& Jackie & Roland & Cedes are a couple and expecting a new addition. Getting ready to read What GOES AROUND

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2004

    I loved this book

    This was a great novel. It was about a beautiful black man that took care of business, treated his lady with kindness, pride and respect. Congrats to Ms. Brown on writing a wonderful and loving account of two people in each other's corner. Pick it up TODAY! There will be no regrets. I also plan to obtain her other novels because I am now hooked, for sure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2004

    Single Moms, There's Still Hope...

    This is a great book. Lots of characters are introduced and keeping them straight gets easier the more you read. I simply could not put the book down. I too am still hoping to find that one successful, 'loving man with benefits' who will put family before all else

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2003

    Good book

    I really enjoyed this book. It's good to read about brothers taking care of their responsibilities. I really enjoyed this book. keep up the good work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2002

    praise for a black man

    i read this book in one night i thought it was a really good story and read. another book by her is sitting in the front pew that was very good also. this is the first time i've heard of her but i love her writing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2001

    Thank You Black Woman

    Praises to the black woman that finally gave our brothers their props. All that we hear and read is all the negative things about black men. This book is my brothers and my husband that passed away. THANK YOU. Its about time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2001

    Outstanding, Awesome!! Surreal and Truly Touching

    Outstanding, awesome and truly touching book. I can't wait to share it with others I know and love. This story touched all of my senses and left me so renewed and full of hope in not only love but, family as well. Alisa and Ariana are the twins who's lives may never be the same after their birth mother Catherine returns to the lives. Their once safe and loving world seem to be threaten and the love an support of their father, Terry and extended family of Jackie, Roland, Momma C, Michael and Michelle, Veronica, Teresa and Mercedes is their only comfort in the midst of the storm. They all show you what it means to love someone unconditionally and be there for them no matter what. This story gives you a sense of renewal, pride and compassion. It's a surreal story, that's has been played out many times before but, the outcome shows that love and faith can withstand even the most demanding evils. It's a story of how one man's determination to keep his family together and live happier ever after is almost destroyed beyond repair. It's truly a page turning novel, you will enjoy and still keep talking about long after you finish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2001

    A very heartwarming book. There are good fathers in the world.

    This was a very enjoyable book. I found it very heartwarming. I recommened it to my daughter and several friends as well. I like the author's style of writing. Brother has a heart and a talent for writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2001

    Much Respect for the African American Single Dad!!

    As a African American Father, I really enjoyed a story that featured a positive black man. Fighting a great fight for his kids and the Love of his life. Then to have a best friend/brother that has his life together and another positive sister in his corner. GREAT BOOK...NEED MORE!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2001

    Excellent reading... absolutely!!!!!!

    This novel was well written and it was so enlightening. I enjoyed every sentence. I now believe that good men exist in today's society. Keep writing uplifting novels such as this and I will be the number one customer. I am hooked now.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2001

    BEAUTIFUL

    THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL BOOK . IT SHOWS THAT ALL MEN AREN'T DEAD BEAT FATHERS.THIS BOOK SHOWS A FATHER HAVING SO MUCH LOVE FOR HIS CHILDREN THAT HE WOULD HAVE DONE ANYTHING TO SAVE THEM FROM THEIR EVIL MOTHER. TERRY WAS A REMARKABLE FATHER IN THIS BOOK . IT WOULD BE VERY NICE IF A LOT MORE FATHERS COULD GET NOTICED FOR TAKING CARE OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES. JACKIE WAS ALSO A GOOD WOMAN WHICH ISN'T NOTHING NEW , COMING FROM A BLACK WOMAN.I READ THIS BOOK IN 3 DAYS.THIS IS A GOOD BOOK.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2000

    This Book Needs More Than Five Stars

    The author of this book has no idea what the term 'male-bashing' means. I recommend this book to anyone who has lost faith in men as a whole. This will be the best $15 dollars you have spent in a long time. Your heart will go out to these characters like they are your personal friends. And to the 'Catherine's' of the world money does'nt by love or children.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2000

    The best novel that I have read in a long time

    This book was so good it only took me 2 days to read this book. This book will make you laugh cry and do everything in between I would recommend that everyone read this I know that everywoman would love to have a Terry or Roland and everyman would love to have a Jackie or Mercedes,and I bet that everyone might know someone like Catherine, and a Momma c, but really read the book because it deals with alot of family issue that could touch bases with alot of men and women.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2000

    Fabulous

    This is one of the most enjoyable novels I have ever read. An emotional roller coaster, non-stop. I could not put it down. A great job Sistah!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2000

    Excellent reading

    This book is absolutely amazing. It was so refreshing to read a book where the African American male is actually the hero throughtout the entire book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews

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