All I Need To Get By
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Format: Paperback, 357pp
Pub. Date: March 2004
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
I have just finished reading All I Need to Get By, the debut novel by Sophfronia Scott. I am taking a moment to pause and collect my thoughts in order to wrangle up the words I hope will do this book justice. All I Need to Get By is nothing short of extraordinary. I have not been this excited over a new author since Olympia Vernon, after I read her debut novel Eden. All I Need to Get By, a story about a family falling apart is billowy, intense, and elegant. What an incredible way for Sophfronia Scott to deliver her introductory calling card, as one of the most promising new author of the year.
Crystal ’Crita’ Carter believed she has finally gotten her life exactly where she wanted it; she has a successful small accounting firm, she is living in New York City, and is living a life far away from her past; except for the painful loneliness that lies over her spirit like a caul. One morning her mother calls, Henry, Crita's father, is ill and Crita has to come home. Crita returns to her family and childhood home in Lorain, Ohio, and to a past she ran to New York City to escape. Crita has to face her brother Linc, who broke her heart; and her first love, Tree, who she secretly hungers for. When tragedy strikes the Carter family, the once splintered family must find their way back to each other.
I was not expecting what I got when I first decided to read All I Need to Get By. From reading the book summary on the back cover of the novel, especially the line where Crita confront two men from her childhood, one of the men being her first love Tree; I knew I was going to get a romance. I am tired of the romance story. So, I started reading the book with one eye open. It did not take long for me to realize that the novel is not another pitiful excuse to tell another U Go Girl romance. The novel is about the undoing of a family. Taking into account my love of family dramas, I tell you all, I was one happy pup.
Scott told the story with the eyes and tongue of an old soul. The style, the rhythm, the characters; getting into All I Need to Get By was as easy as falling into a pleasant dream. Crita is the central figure of the story, yet Scott, masterfully, constructs the entire Carter clan. Scott strikes all the right notes for the bittersweet song of this shattered family. The relationship between Crita and Linc was simply beautiful. Rarely is a brother-sister relationship depict so strong, delicate, and intimate and heart wrenching. If there is a ’romance’ in this novel, it's between Linc and Crita. I enjoyed watching these two come to grip with themselves and each other.
I applaud Scott's use of the tricky ’flashback’ device. I get annoyed when flashbacks are misused. Scott handled them quite well. She was so smooth with the transition of moving from Crita's present to Crita's past that it was damn near graceful. I can not ask for more.
All I Need to Get By is wonderful, wonderful novel. Scott knows how to get to
the heart of a story and inter her characters souls. I am going to wait to read
her next novel before I pledge my whole undying love for her writing. Be that as
it may, Scott is off to marvelous start; hopefully All I Need to Get By is a
sign of things to come.