Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Review - Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett

Passing Love By Jacqueline E. Luckett
Grand Central Publishing. 320 pp. $14.99 paperback
Reviewed by Karen E. Quinones Miller for The Philadelphia Inquirer

 Passing Love
Going to Paris was a dream Nicole-Marie Handy had cherished all her life — or at least since age 9, when she’d secretly opened the cedar trunk in her parents’ bedroom and discovered an old French dictionary, along with other keepsakes from her father’s stint in World War II. Now, at 56, she’s decided to make the dream come true.
Even though Tamara, the friend whom she’d wanted to accompany her, has died.

Even though the man with whom she’d been in love for years has finally proposed.
Even though she’s scared to death.
One of the last requests that Tamara made as she lay dying of pancreatic cancer was that Nicole go on with their travel plans without her. And while it was true that Clint did finally say he wanted to marry her, he hadn’t said what he planned to do about his present wife. As for her fear of traveling to a foreign country by herself?,?it was nothing compared to her fear of eventually regretting — at the end of her life — that she’d never pursued her dream.
Nicole’s father, Squire, has Alzheimer’s disease, and her mother, Malvina, is old and tired and doesn’t want her only daughter traveling to a foreign country. But Nicole has gotten her courage up, and refuses to change her mind.
And so it is that Nicole finds herself in Paris; as did RubyMae, more than 60 years earlier.
RubyMae was a young girl who hailed from pre-civil rights Mississippi and wanted more than what her little town had to offer. Light enough to pass for white, she bristled more than most at the racism so rampant in many parts of the South. When strangers met her, they treated her well, but when they learned her ethnicity, they treated her horribly. Those first moments before new acquaintances heard about her African ancestry, moments when she knew what it was like to be treated as human, made the subsequent mistreatment all the more hurtful.
Sneaking out of her parents’ home in the middle of the night to go to a juke joint with one of her mother’s boarders, she met Arnett Dupree, a sexy saxophonist, and fell in love with him, his music and his stories of Gay Paris. Though much older than RubyMae, Arnett was also smitten, and the two eventually ran off together, with Paris as their ultimate destination.

Nicole and RubyMae are African American women from two different generations, who have had vastly different existences — but their sojourn in the City of Light changes both lives in ways that neither could ever have imagined, and connects them in a way neither will ever be able to ignore.
Passing Love is the second novel by Jacqueline E. Luckett, a writer from Oakland, Calif. Her first book, Searching for Tina Turner, was published last year. The pacing of the book is leisurely, and you feel as if you’re taking a long, unhurried trip to France. The story moves back and forth in time between modern-day Paris and the Paris of the 1950s, with its abundance of American expatriates and rich jazz scene.

Passing Love on Amazon