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Good Hair

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Terry McMillan aside, fiction that delves into the sociology and evolution of the African-American middle and upper classes is strangely absent from the publishing scene. Books tend to cluster on either end of the spectrum of black experience — examining the pathology of the contemporary ghetto, or opting out of modern life entirely by taking refuge in history. With this novel, however, another author has exhaled. Superficially, Good Hair is the story of Alice Andrews — a young woman who grows up on the wrong side of the tracks in Newark and becomes a successful journalist — and her relationship with Jack, a surgeon from a snobby Boston family. But it’s really a treatise on the class distinctions that the African-American community imposes on itself, where such distinctions come from, and what they mean. Unfortunately, the insights are too often obscured by a narrator who makes her point at the top of her very powerful lungs. One wishes she had taken a few more breaths. B