Although it brings the people and sensory details of New York's ethnic neighborhoods to bustling life, Santiago's first novel suffers from a cluttered story line. Police officer Francesca Colon, 38, a Puerto Rican single mother of two teenagers, is starting a new high-profile assignment in the NYPD's Public Information Office. Her excitement over her promotion pales when she discovers that she must work with the angry and lecherous Dick Walsh, her former partner, whom she had hoped never to see again. When a police officer kills a young Latino who was possibly a drug dealer, and another officer is accused of throwing a young boy off a rooftop, Francesca finds herself thrust into the spotlight as a spokesperson whom the Department is counting on to calm the tense Latino community. The beleaguered cop must also deal with family troubles. Her daughter has returned home from Madrid, pregnant by her gypsy boyfriend. Her son has run off to stay with his AIDS-stricken father, who's living with squatters. Her sister and her sister's lesbian lover have a new baby, conceived with the help of a turkey baster, and her mother is practicing magical love spells. Amidst all this strife, Francesca makes peace with Walsh and begins a fiery affair with Denzel Brown, an activist lawyer representing both the squatters and the mother of one of the dead boys. Santiago's mix of personal problems, politics and police corruption doesn't quite gel. That it winds up not in the expected shoot-out, however, but on a quiet, hopeful note is emblematic of the author's seriousness of purpose, which shines through her strong characters and passionate, clean writing. (June)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Santiago (Nightside, LJ 12/93) draws on her background as a press officer for the New York State attorney general and for the state comptroller in this story of Puerto Rican New Yorker Francesca Colon, the first Latina spokesperson for the New York City Police Department. Francesca juggles gender and generational conflicts at homeher mother suffers a near-fatal heart attack on Easter, her younger sister comes out as a lesbian, and her teenage daughter announces her pregnancy. On the job, Francesca juggles sexual and racial tensions within the police force, the Latino community, and city politics. Amid all the conflict, Francesca retains passion, humor, and hopefor herself, for her family, and for her community. This joyful slice of modern urban life is highly recommended.Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, Ore.
Francesca Colon is a Puerto Rican cop with two teenagers, big ambitions, and a life full of crises, hard work, pain, and tears. She has a new job with the NYPD Public Information Department, and already she's in hot water. As the only Latina in the press office, Francesca feels she has something to prove and quickly gets the opportunity to prove it when she lands right in the middle of a public-relations fiasco--a big-time police cover-up. As if that weren't enough, Francesca's ex-husband shows up; her mother has a serious heart attack; her son runs away; her unmarried daughter is pregnant; and Francesca finds herself falling head over heels in love. Santiago, a former press officer and editor, writes a gripping story about big-city cops, power, and politics. But it's more than just another cop-shop yarn. This deeply moving tale is about women, love, and families; it pulses with life, tugs at the heart, and stays with the reader long after the action has ended.
Another political thriller short on thrills, from the Manhattan reporter and press agent whose previous efforts (Nightside, 1994; Room 9, 1992) have staked out the seamy streets of NYC and in the still-seamier corridors of City Hall.
We can be pretty sure from the get-go that 38-year-old Francesca Colon has trouble in store: For one thing, the local diner where she meets friends for breakfast mysteriously explodes the very morning she's to start a new job with the NYPD Public Information office. Francesca is very uneasy about the jobMayor Santorelli's willingness to cut social services and get tough with crime has made his administration unpopular with the city's impoverished Hispanics, and the Mollen Commission is about to break open a major corruption scandal within the forcebut Francesca needs the salary for her two teenaged children now that her junkie husband has left the scene. Soon enough, however, she finds herself even deeper in trouble than she could have imagined. She begins an affair with Denzel Brown, a black lawyer who has brought suit against the police force for the death of a young boy, even though Francesca herself is partly responsible for concealing the evidence of police guilt from public view. Meanwhile, her daughter Alma returns pregnant from a vacation in Spain; her younger sister Manuela, who's only recently come out of the closet, is also pregnant; her mother is sick and needs an operation; and her stockbroker brotherthe only real capitalist in the familydoesn't see why he should have to pay for it. As if all this weren't enough, Francesca's husband is back on the scene, now living with a group of squatters and determined to gain custody of their son. How will it all end? Pretty happily, as it turns out, though not with much verisimilitude.
Obvious, shallow, and rather tedious.