Wish I Had A Red Dress
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by Pearl Cleage
Format: Hardcover, 288pp.
Publisher: Morrow,William & Co
Pub. Date: June 2001
Edition Desc: 1 ED
Reviewed by Thumper, AALBC.com
I'm going to be upfront. The review will be short and sour. I Wish I Had A Red Dress, Pearl Cleage's new novel, we return to Idlewood, Michigan for a reunion of sorts. Where Cleage's first novel focused on Ava in What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day (I still love that title), I Wish I Had A Red Dress is Joyce’s, Ava's sister, story. I'm going to give it to you all straight, by the end of the book I was pissed! I Wish I Had A Red Dress had some good points; I can't remember what they are at the moment. There was more than one occasion where I wish I were reading another book. By the time I had finished I Wish I Had A Red Dress, I was so irritated by Joyce that I would have strangled her with that red dress.
I Wish I Had A Red Dress picks up with Joyce trying to raise funds for her center where she educates young AA women. The center serves as a get together place, a day care, a place where she can teach young women self-reliance, self esteem, a sense of themselves and their place in the world. Joyce is teaching the young women how to be ’free women’. Joyce is still going through some stuff with the death of her husband Mitch, dressing in black, etc. With the entrance of the new high school counselor, Nate, a 6’ 8’ ex Detroit policeman, into the picture, Joyce's world is about to get the shake up she needs to live her life to the fullest.
I had several problems with Joyce and I Wish I Had A Red Dress. Here are a few: First, in several spots, llooonngg spots, the book was plain boring. I can only take so much of this Oprah stuff, embracing your spirit, etc. At one point, I didn't now if this was a novel or a self-help book. Joyce went on and on with her ’free woman’ theories, 200 pages worth. Enough all ready. Talk is cheap. All that and 35 cents will get you a local phone call.
Second, the 180-degree turn that Joyce did towards the end of the book when her assistant was physically assaulted. Joyce wanted to know when the men was going to start protect their women. Humph. don't sound that free to me. I suffered through Joyce harping on this liberated black woman stuff and then when it's time to get to it, when its time for it to show its strength, Joyce has the nerve to get mad because the men wasn't rushing to defend the womenfolk. Geez-us B A FENCE!! What was the POINT?
I Wish I Had A Red Dress may be right up your alley. It certainly wasn't up mine. As my mother is known to say, that's your little read wagon-I Ain't pushin’ or pullin’ it.