Nappily Ever After is a vibrant tale of a young woman's journey to independence. The characters are real and emerge from this novel as people you actually know. It's an exquisitely passionate novel from an immensely gifted new author.
Pamela Walker-Williams - Page-Turner Network
Venus Johnson's cry for freedom echoes throughout this gripping page-turner as a series of self-revealing choices. Defying the pleas of her perm-toting hairdresser, Venus shaves off her long hair after years of chemical straightening. Her shockingly sparse Afro screams, "affirm me as I am—a beautiful sistah inside and out.
Black Issues Book Review
African-American advertising agency executive Venus Johnston has had enough. Enough of the painful, expensive hours spent relaxing her "good" hair and enough of her four-year relationship with medical intern Clint Fairchild, which has lasted too long without a ring. She shaves her hair to a quarter-inch stubble, tells Clint to pack his bags and spends the rest of Thomas's empowering debut novel building a new life to match the new woman she's become. Clint, on the rebound, meets beautiful, longhaired and marriage-ready Kandi Treboe and proposes on an impulse, despite evidence that he's not over Venus. Meanwhile, Venus confronts issues of sexual harassment and racism in her predominantly white Washington, D.C., firm, where she begins to receive threatening notes. The crisis at work fuels Venus's fears that she's not strong enough to survive her new freedom. Has she made a mistake by abandoning the security of her boyfriend and her long, straight hair? Kandi develops into a complex character, with her own set of concerns and a sense of humor about the lovers' triangle. Her perspective provides an interesting counterpoint to Venus's obsession with the consuming culture surrounding black women's hair. Clint's confusion over his choice between the two women is treated honestly, and Venus's discovery that she has moved to new psychological territory carries emotional weight. This exploration of an African-American woman's journey to self-acceptance is not without flaws (spotty writing and loose ends tied up too fast), but Thomas refuses to let her characters slide into stereotype, and she keeps the pace fast and funny.
Thomas offers painful but amusing insights into the politics of beauty, black culture, and male-female relationships; her first novel places her in a league with Terry MacMillan and Bebe Moore Campbell. —Vanessa Bush
A young black woman decides to stop fussing with her hair, and changes her life in the process. Venus Johnson has a successful career in cosmetics advertising, some great girlfriends, and a live-in love who's (yes!) a doctor. But pediatrician Clint has been content with their relationship just as it is and doesn't seem any too interested in ever making a real commitment. He likes her just as she is, too, including her long, straight, processed hair. Fed up, Venus asks her very surprised hairdresser to cut it all off—and promptly kicks Clint out, just like that. The handsome doctor is baffled, but there's another woman ready and waiting, of course: Kandi, whose hair is equally long, soft, and processed. Venus has second thoughts about her impulsive action, but she's got a few other things on her mind at the moment: a lecherous colleague and the poison-pen letters someone's been sending her at the office. Her friends, family, and coworkers weigh in with comments, mostly negative, about her very short hair, but Venus is thrilled to have put an end to her tedious hours in beauty salons and her general obsession with her appearance. Let Clint marry his sweet Kandi, Venus decides; she's found herself—and freedom. Irresistibly cheerful, feel-good feminism underpins this pleasant little tale, although the men are in no way villainous, and the talented author writes just as sympathetically from a male point of view. Lively dialogue and fresh characterization enrich the barely-there plot, which is all Thomas needs to make her point: It's what inside that counts. A slight but winning debut.
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