"Changing Faces" was the November selection for my book club. I'd never heard of the author, but with a little research it became apparent that Roby was an established author of African-American chick-lit. Author of 13 novels, Roby has received countless awards in the African-American literary community as a result of her very real stories of domestic abuse, addictions, infidelity, racial discrimination, sexual discrimination, and other hot topics. I also knew that another friend of mine in the book club had read the book on her iPod Touch in about a day and a half. I was ready for a fun ride.
The story focuses on three middle-aged black women, all best friends, all with their own issues. Whitney is a plus-sized woman, weighing in at about 250 pounds, that has found professional success in her career as a telecommunications executive, but can't maintain a relationship, presumably because of her weight. Whitney is plagued with doubts and low self-esteem. Taylor is a high-powered attorney who is in a long-term relationship with a commitment-phobe. When Taylor is faced with a potentially life-changing health issue, she's forced to confront some pretty painful realities about her future with this man. Charisse is a nurse with a husband and two children. She is supposedly a very religious woman, but it becomes clear early in the novel she is a hypocrite of the highest order. She has skeletons in the closet, she is spiteful and hateful, and has had a troubled childhood.
The book was incredibly easy to read. Roby's easy, flowing prose makes for a one or two-sitting session. However, there was so much insane, histrionic drama, I found my head hurting about halfway through. Cat fights! Relationships falling apart! Friendships falling apart! Affairs! Lies! Ack! I think I am a pretty sympathetic individual, who easily makes excuses for the tortured soul, but I LOATHED Charisse. There is no way Roby could have made her a more detestable creature. I didn't care that she had a difficult life as a child, I wanted her to be PUNISHED! By her family, by the law, by God, whoever. Cosmic karma be brought down on her head! I did become invested in the other two women, and wanted the best for them. Roby also throws in a couple of curveballs that made this book unpredictable enough to give it an edge. Deep, thoughtful literature this is not, folks, but it was entertaining. When I clicked through to the last page, however, you could have stuck a fork in me. I was done. Plum worn out.
The book club's take:
I'm not sure why exactly, but only three of us showed up for book club this month. Which is pretty pathetic, out of about 15 ladies. I was left wondering why there wasn't a reschedule? We had some discussion about the book - we didn't love it, but liked it well enough. I sensed there may have been a bit more empathy for Charisse that I had personally, based on her torturous childhood, but I think we were in the same ballpark. But with only three of us, the dialogue petered out quickly. Although I will grab any excuse to go out with the ladies and have a glass of wine, I did walk away annoyed. Whoever was supposed to make next month's selection did not show. So our takeaway was: no book for next month, and no meeting date...
3 out of 5 stars