A white woman is brutally assaulted in her California home; her black husband, claiming innocence, is jailed for attempted murder. Whitegirl begins with this premise and, in flashback, recalls Charlotte Halsey’s courtship with Milo Robicheaux — she a model, he an Olympic medalist-turned-actor — and how their lives ultimately came to blows. Delicately handling the intimacies of an interracial relationship, Manning admirably attempts to shed new light on a disconcertingly familiar story that harbors more than a few echoes of the O.J. Simpson case. But for all the details in this ambitious 400-plus-page debut novel, Whitegirl is hampered by so many other issues — the cult of celebrity, the condemnation of the hyperreligious, the superficiality of the fashion world — that they end up distracting from the main event.