Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Changing Faces - Kimberla Lawson Roby (KIndle)



"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


20 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

Have you still not managed to arrange a date/book for your next meeting? I'm so sad that your book group isn't working.

I think that lighter books like this can be hard to talk about for a long time no matter how many people you have present, but a least you were able to get out for a glass of wine. I'd make the most of the few people you do have and hope that a few of the old members return, or you can recruit some fresh blood. Good luck!

JoAnn said...

How frustrating! That's happened to my group a few times, too. We end up picking the next book, date, etc. through a series of emails. Not the optimal way to operate.

I don't have much tolerance for chick lit, unless I know going in it's just easy entertainment and that's what I'm looking for.

savidgereads said...

Oh that is really, really frustrating, in fact that would infuriate me somewhat. A not great book and no plans for another meeting. You must keep us posted on this Sandy!

Beth F said...

Oh I am so sorry that it was a slightly dud of a meeting. That is annoying. But you did get a night out!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have found that November and December are pretty tough times to get people together, with the holidays coming and zillions of things to do. I hope your next meeting is better attended!

caite said...

bummer about the book club. see, that is why I never join things..lol

as to the book, I actually though the story sounded s bit interesting until you talked about the cat fights. That was in the book right, not at the meeting? ;-)
That sounds too over the top for me.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds a little too much like a soap opera for my taste. Thanks for the review.

The Bumbles said...

I would call that a good airplane read. That's generally the only time I read the fluffier, fly through the pages for the fun of it type books. I wonder if her other books follow a similar dynamic with her characters?

You really should join Goodreads - or something similar, I can't speak to the others because I don't belong to other sites. I belong to several online book groups and they are very active.

One in particular (The Constant Reader) operates where books are nominated, voted on and chosen well in advance (6 months or so) and a schedule is posted. Then you pick and choose which ones you want to read and participate in the ongoing discussions whenever you have the time. They go on for weeks - sometimes longer - as different people chime in and revive things.

And if you happen to hit it off with a member in particular you can begin a personal discussion on the side directly.

I love it. I never have to worry about people not showing up or getting stuck with a bunch of books I dislike. I nominate books I have on my list to read and vote on others that strike my fancy. I have been exposed to a lot of titles I never would have thought to try. The even have a separate list for Classics.

Anna said...

This book sounds fun, though I'm not sure I'd ever read it.

Sorry about your book club. Serena and I can't seem to get one together ourselves. One of our co-workers just abandoned us for no real reason. The husbands are enjoying it, surprisingly, so we'll be continuing with just the four of us for now. I hope your next meeting is better.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Craftymoose Crafts said...

How disappointing about your book club! A similar thing happens with my oil painting class--only a few regulars show up every week. I think when something is free, people don't feel a commitment.

I really enjoy your reviews--you give a good sense of the book without giving it all away.

Btw, I'm almost finished with "Meggie's Remains".

Iliana said...

Hmm, I really don't like stories where I can't feel something for the characters, well especially, when you think you have to understand them or feel sorry for them and they've just managed to annoy you. I don't know that I'll check out this book - mainly, as I read less and less chick lit nowadays.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I haven't read a lot of chick lit lately, but I find it's a little hit and miss for me. Sorry you are having such problems with your book club! That's one of the reasons I haven't joined one. It's seems a lot of them start out well, then just seem to disappear.

Amy said...

That is a real bummer that so few people showed up for your metting! And it's especially frustrating that the woman who is supposed to pick the book and date for next month. I have read books with characters I didn't care for but I don't think I have ever loathed a character. I'm not sure I could read the book if I really felt so strongly about one of the characters (unless he/she was totally peripheral). The histrionics and drama sound a bit much too. I am impressed you were able to get through the entire book, Sandy!
I would guess that there wasn't that much to talk about with this book, aside from your somewhat shared feelings about Charisse. Glad you had some wine!

I hope things work out with your book club and get straightened out, Sandy!

Kathleen said...

That's too bad about the book and the book club. For my book club we show up but some haven't read the book and just want to drink wine and chit chat. I want to do that too but discuss the book first and then I will drink lots of wine! In any case I doubt I would have much sympathy for a character like Charisse either. I can only take so much before I want to tell people to stop being victims!

Melody said...

I'm sorry to hear the bookclub meeting didn't turn out well. I hope the next one will be better!

Alyce said...

That has to be very frustrating! I belong to a very small book club (with five people total) so having 3 people show isn't that odd for our group. We usually get done talking about the books that we read very quickly though, but I love the social aspect of it.

Literary Feline said...

I would be frustrated too that hardly anyone showed up for the book club. I would have been there if I was closer and a member.

Charisse sounds like a character I wouldn't much like either. I do okay with books like this sometimes, but most of the time no. It really depends.

Thanks for your great review, Sandy!

Dar said...

Ugggh, how frustrating when people don't show and don't let anyone know. This books sounds like one of those lighter reads you need every once in a while although I've never heard of this author either.

Alice Teh said...

I'm sorry the book club meet was not good. I'd probably be fuming if the situation happened to me because I could've spend the time doing other more productive things.

stacybuckeye said...

Your review was a lot of fun. Too bad about your group, though.