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Ina West grew up independent and solitary, raised by an artistic,
unavailable mother and a reliable, loving father. As a twenty-something
photographer, Ina landed in Manhattan's bohemian art scene after
college, at the same time that she started dating the devoted,
hardworking Jay Robinson. When her mother's mental state began to
deteriorate, her closest cousin became dangerously ill, and her free
artist's lifestyle put her in some vulnerable situations, Ina found
comfort in Jay's trajectory into the safe, privileged world of the
African-American upper middle class. Forsaking her independence and
creativity for the joys of family life and material wealth, she married
Jay, had three children, and moved to the suburbs; gradually, Ina gave
herself completely to motherhood and the upkeep of their increasingly
luxurious lifestyle. And they had it all: the SUV, the lavish home, the
expensive but casual wardrobe.
Then one day, after twelve years, Jay comes home from work and
announces that he's leaving. Amid her shock, grief, and fear, a single
clear truth emerges: though still physically present, Ina herself had
checked out of the marriage long ago.
As she struggles with single motherhood, reduced financial stability,
and the emotional roller coaster of her breakup, Ina undertakes a
journey of self-discovery with no sure destination. She moves to a
smaller house, rekindles an old love, and takes up photography again.
The old adventuresome, independent Ina begins to resurface, tempered by
a self-knowledge borne of experience: she has learned how to look
unflinchingly into her past and to determine what she wants for her
Little delves into some of the most private and difficult questions
people face. This moving, ambitious, and accomplished novel explores
the fallout -- and the healing -- that can occur when the
African-American dream crumbles, and when a woman is torn between
divergent lifestyle choices. Ina's story of loss and courageous
self-revelation will resonate for any woman who has struggled with
finding her path in life.
Benilde Little, the beloved bestselling author of Good Hair and The
Itch, is a writer whose works are touchstones for legions of people
because they reach deeply into readers' lives. Her new novel will do
that again. Acting Out is the probing, poignant, and ultimately
uplifting story of a woman caught between the life she thought she was
supposed to lead and the dreams she gave up long ago.
by Benilde Little
Free Press (Simon & Schuster)
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