Taming It Down: A Novel

Taming It Down: A Novel

by Kim McLarin
     
 

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At the heart of this wonderful novel is a young woman trapped between two worlds. Hope Robinson is black, embattled -- and bright enough to win a scholarship to an exclusive prep school. It's an opportunity that comes at a high price; Hope never really feels comfortable in the white community and worries that she has been cut off from her roots. Her struggle to find

Overview

At the heart of this wonderful novel is a young woman trapped between two worlds. Hope Robinson is black, embattled -- and bright enough to win a scholarship to an exclusive prep school. It's an opportunity that comes at a high price; Hope never really feels comfortable in the white community and worries that she has been cut off from her roots. Her struggle to find her place has left her confused, alone, and profoundly angry.

Now 28, a reporter for a Philadelphia newspaper, Hope still clings to her rage. As the novel unfolds, she finds her life spinning out of control, both at work -- where conflicts over affirmative action escalate into outright hostility -- and in her tangled personal life, where she's torn between her relationship with an Afrocentric journalist and her affair with a white man. Finally, overwhelmed by stress, she's driven to a desperate act that ultimately leads her to an understanding that hatred is the most self-destructive of all emotions. Hope tells her story in an articulate, colloquial voice that rings with truth. She's smart, wry, and every bit as unsparing of herself as she is of others; in short, she's a woman any reader can root for -- and as she comes to grips with herself, it's impossible not to feel sympathetic, moved, and uplifted.

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Sun-Times
Taming It Down is worth reading to hear the blues behind some bylines.
Essence Magazine
How Hope finds peace and comes to her senses is a tale McLarin tells with keen humor.
New York Times Book Review
McLarin is a writer of significant promise.
Andy Solomon
. . .Hope's passion as a narratorand the vivid details that make her so authentic a charactermark McLarin as a writer of significant promise. —The New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
Hope is a woman with every reason to be angry. Her editor at a Philadelphia newspaper thinks she got her job merely because she's black. Her white lover dumps her for another, blonder woman, and her African American boyfriend considers her a traitor to her race. But when her temper leads her to commit a desperate and irreversible act, she is forced to re-evaluate her relationships with her colleagues, her men, her family, and herself. McLarin's first novel goes beyond the typical woman-in-the-'90s-looking-for-happiness story to explore how rage can erode both individual lives and whole societies, and how one woman's ability to let go and forgive can lead to healing. While the supporting characters, especially the men, are thinly drawn, Hope stands out as the perfect girlfriend: smart, funny, and caring, a woman you want to shake some sense into and hug at the same time. -- Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library
Andy Solomon
. . .Hope's passion as a narrator, and the vivid details that make her so authentic a character, mark McLarin as a writer of significant promise. -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Newcomer McLarin, who's worked for the AP, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Times, debuts with the story of a young black woman's struggles—professional and social—in the white man's world of journalism. Although far too few scenes from Hope Robinson's formative youth are on view here, it's clear that her years as one of the few black students at a northeastern prep school have had a lasting effect on her adult attitude toward both blacks and whites. Now a news reporter at The Philadelphia Record, the 28-year-old Hope feels shunned by the other black employees and wary of the white ones. Caught between two worlds, a psychological state she's come to regard as routine, she reaches out to no one and returns each day to her solitary apartment where she sleeps, watches TV, and screens calls from her worried mother back in Memphis, who depends on Hope and her younger sister to fulfill her own dreams. When Hope meets charismatic David Carson, a white editor at her paper, and learns he's romantically involved with Stephanie Woodbridge, a white reporter who seems to epitomize the privileged, racist type, Hope decides to release her pent-up anger in a highly personal way. Her subsequent torrid affair with David ends sadly when David decides he can't give up on Stephanie, who's been awarded a promotion and will be leaving Philadelphia for good. After plenty of heartache, Hope finally opens herself instead to Malcolm, a radical black reporter from another paper who needs Hope's talent for mental balance as much as she needs his impulsiveness.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688155162
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/28/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.14(d)

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