A Family Reunion
by Brenda Jackson, contemporary (2001)
St Martin's Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-97883-9


Brenda Jackson's "big-time" debut (everyone knows Arabesque pay enough to make a refugee camp look like a health spa, plus they make crummy movies out of your books, so feh to them, yes?) unfortunately isn't the heartwarming family drama I expect it to be. No, before you irate people write to me calling me a racist pig because I can't see African American characters as anything but "imperfect", let me say that I am not complaining about the full display of perfect glutes, thigh, abs, and perky mammaries (cellulite need not come this way) in this story. What I'm complaining is the annoying lack of real emotions or anything in this family story to make it worth remembering.

Again, let me say I do not expect to read about people using thick "ethnic" accents or wearing African jewelry from head to toe. I'll stick to MTV videos by Nelly for that, and trust me, I know Nelly isn't like that in real life. He just brings his ugly buddies and all the sexy chicks in the neighborhood to bop around in an artificially bouncing rented Jaguar in a lousy video. Great tunes though.

Apologies to sensible readers who are offended by all this, but really, some readers are really touchy. They confuse my being bored by monotonous storytelling as some twisted need of mine to read about AA people getting shot down in ghettos or something.

Anyway, the story. Let's see, granddaddy Ethan Bennett is holding a family reunion for the first time in fifteen years. There are some lousy no-good folks like the two Victors who must be racing to see who could make more bastards in this world. But at the heart of our story are the four Perfect Cousins.

Firstly, there's Michael, a hot single daddy who gets the most gratuitous sex scenes with disposable extras/sometimes-insults-to-the-female-race. But he soon learns that of all the skanks who spread like peanut butter, there is no better love than your own cousin, Taye. Don't worry. Taye's just the... er, fifth cousin, I think. Keep it in the family, yes? With such perfect genes, can you blame the eugenics?

Taye, or Octavia, is a sad lonely hairstylist who must be on her knees looking for her contact lens (I could say worse, but this is a family website, yes?) when they dispensed the pamphlet on safe sex. Why? The silly woman manages to get involved in bad boyfriends that knocked her up. Twice. Jeez. Still, she soon learns that unsafe sex is best done wild and mighty with your own kind. Michael, yeah, squirt it everywhere baby. I think I just disgusted myself with that last sentence, but anyway, moving on.

You can always pretend I didn't write that sentence. Anyway, I'm talking about gardening.

Then there's formerly chubby Alexia, who is now a superstar hot momma. Apparently she did this transformation without any "personal training" from men with scalpels. Yeah right. Now all she wants is a baby. Never mind that she is about to go solo, she wants a baby now. Oh Alexia, where is your agent and manager? Brenda Jackson describes life of Alexia, sort of like Beyoncé of Destiny's Child but with infighting only with the new skanky member. Does Ms Jackson know something about Destiny's Child that the world doesn't? Are Solange and that B woman bullying poor Kelly now?

Alexia wants a baby. But this woman wants to bed a hunky guy and gets pregnant the all natural and probably all-Bennett way. Alright! I guess Alexia never had that long talk with Taye about babies and all. Then again, Alexia is the heroine, so I guess she has the right to pass the Double Standard Sign, only Skanks and Non-Bennett Hos Burn To Death, You Sluts, DIEDIEDIE!!! - collect some hunk while you pass the arch, will you, Alexia?

Hey, woman. (a) Bad career move to have a baby when your solo career is about to take off, and (b) only Madonna can get away with using walking talking sperm banks.

Oh, she falls in love with the sperm bank. The end.

Finally, Rae'jean. If you still care after the blinding and unrelenting perfect teeth and body and all by now, she is the one who is looking for absent daddy and trying to figure out whether to marry a boring fellow or to boink an exciting one. For some reason, Rae'jean gets the least of the limelight. She's my favorite of the four, naturally.

These four cousins are perfect. Their insecurities are just annoying ripples in a pond that can be rid off by a giant splash of a super shaft of male might into the pool of... sorry, that's probably too purple even for Barney. Oh, the pain of those beautiful, rich people with way so much time in their hands! Brenda Jackson puts in enough superficial treatments of issues that lets the really bored - like yours truly here - make fun out of. Such as how this book at the end of the day still carries the same old broken record: daddy rules, grandpappy is god, and oh, mom's a bitch and a slut. Granny's okay though. Keep the good genes in the family - everyone else are skanks (for the guys) or evil users (for the gals). Safe sex? Whazzat? Artificial impregnation? Whazzat?

No vulnerabilities, no emotions, just cardboard cut-outs of Hollywood superstars pretending to be normal people. I'm afraid I'm not that idealistic, sorry. If that's not so much of a problem, I'd like to order some Tender Loving Care and Vulnerable, Emotional Characters. Is that on the menu anytime in the future?

Rating: 69


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