From the bestselling author of Good Hair and The Itch comes a novel about a modern woman living in -- and acting out -- her role as an upper-class African-American suburban wife.
Ina West is caught between the life she thought she was supposed to lead and the dreams she gave up long ago. Raised by loving but imperfect parents, Ina grew up a free spirit, getting a fine education and spending her twenty-something years as a photographer in Manhattan. But when family crisis and financial burdens came her way, Ina sought comfort in the arms of Jay Robinson, a hardworking businessman who occupied the safe, privileged world of the African-American upper middle class.
As Jay's wife, Ina has it all: the lavish home, the SUV, the soccer games...until one day Jay walks out of their marriage, leaving Ina with no one left to trust but herself. How she manages to raise three children, take up her old career, rekindle an old flame, and celebrate her newfound independence is what Acting Out is all about. By turns heartbreaking, uplifting, and wry, this novel will resonate for any woman who has struggled to find her path in life.!
A familiar women's fiction premise husband leaves wife and kids for pretty young thing is well served by Little's (Good Hair) feisty, conversational style and her memorable depiction of black upper-class life. Ina Robinson has a beautiful home in an exclusive neighborhood; a generous husband, Jay, who is a fellow Howard University graduate and successful real estate entrepreneur; and three adorable children Malcolm, Marcus and Ivy. She spends her days caring for the kids, cleaning the house, volunteering, and attending her book club and mothers' group. Yet she has the vague sense that something is missing. In her mothers' group, "all the women were powerful used-to-bes: a banker, several lawyers, a journalist, but I'd never really had a career to miss." When Jay leaves her for a real estate heiress, Ina realizes that she has been sleepwalking through the last few years of her life, having chosen security and predictability over creativity and independence. Though the separation leaves Ina at wit's end she barely has time to explain to the kids about Daddy's new girlfriend before Jay is selling the house out from under her she also begins to develop her own career as a photographer, has a chance to reconnect with her first love and begins to consider what she truly wants from her life. Little's writing is assured, apart from the occasional homily ("Know that there's always a price for not being yourself"), and she captures well the awkwardness of being a single divorc e in the suburbs. In all, this is a solid, likable effort. 10-city author tour.
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I read this and also read her book, Good Hair. Acting Out is a great story of a woman recapturing herself and pulling from her strengths to get herself through a difficult time.
This is the second of Benilde Little's books I've read (Good Hair was my first) and its truly a good read for women of any color. Benilde examines the world of the upper middle class AA community with finesse, clarity and great humor. She's a more than capable story teller and I enjoy her work tremendously. She takes the time to examine all facets of a situation in the storyline and not just throw in a couple of stereotypes or cliches just to keep it moving. Love her work and wholeheartedly recommend this book!