Back to Life by Wendy Coakley-Thompson Dafina Books/Kensington Publishing. Corp. September 2004, $12., ISBN 0-758-20745-X
The notion of Prince Charming is fairy-tale fodder to Lisa Martin, a rightfully bitter 29-year-old on the brink of divorce from a real Jekyll and Hyde. That is, until she encounters Marc Guerrieri, a 40-year-old writer whose regretful chase after the best-seller left his marriage in ruins. If the age difference and unchecked baggage wasn't enough to make this love connection implausible, Marc's Italian ancestry and Lisa's blackness definitely could. Nevertheless, debut novelist Wendy Coakley-Thompson invantively adds another dimension that uncovers the stupidity and strength of racism.
Situated in metropolitan New York circa 1989, amidst the murder of young, black Yusuf Hawkins by a group of Italian teenagers, and David Dinkins's win for mayor, this sociopolitically charged setting transforms into a dynamic character. For readers, remembrances are evoked, tensions are reexperienced and beliefs are reexamined.
Equipped with well-exposed vulnerabilities, Lisa and Marc must navigate this vivid landscape of black and white; love and hate; failure and success; while sustaining a suffocated romance.