Get Out: A psychological thriller/horror story

Get Out: A psychological thriller/horror story

An invitation should never lead to “Get out!” Or should it?

Recently, I was thrilled when my son invited me to the movies, one of his favorite pastimes, to see Jordan Peele’s premiere feature writing-directing debut. Typically, when my son extends the invitation, I offer one thousand reasons why I can’t go, starting with “I’m writing, reading, editing and filming” and ending with, “Sorry. I’m searching the Firestick for said-movie right now.” This time was different, though. I wanted to see a “good” horror movie, a thing I rarely watch, that is, if I wasn’t laughing and ridiculing it for being less than horrific.

So why was this time different?

I’m writing my first horror short story and the first thing I figure I’d do is read a couple of classic horror stories so I make it to the library to check out Stephen King’s The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories and now my son becomes clairvoyant, reading my mind and springing for a film that is trending with intriguing reviews. Good going, Claudia!

I accept the invitation and promise myself not to leave before the credits rise.

Okay, here we go. Firstly, the film’s advertising photo snatches my attention. A young black man is suspended in darkness, terror and helplessness in his wide eyes, his body hanging manically, as if he is running backward, falling into a sort of no-man’s land. Strangely, the pink of his parted lips connotes a slash of blood on his distressed face. Not good, but great for the movie’s categories. Horror and Mystery.

GET OUT

Peele’s feature film is the story of Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) accepting an invitation home to meet the parents of his sweetly insistent white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). Not too unusual, right? Not so. I’m thinking, why is this less-than-rosy chick pressing her relatively new boyfriend to go home with her to meet the parents after “Hello, my name is Rose.” I mean, I may be dated, but don’t lovers wait longer than four or five months to take that Parent Step? After all, they might not make the five-month marker? Nonetheless, this Rose of a missy is not only bending boyfriend’s arm to meet the parents, but she’s also downright ditsy about not having to forewarn her folks that the new bae is black. Third red flag!

No matter what, darling reader, please know that I LOVED the movie. And I will try not to spoil it for you…at least in too many places. Alright! Now you know what my grandma knew, I can’t hold water.  🙂  So I’ll carry on.

The first flag flashes when the movie opens on a manicured neighborhood at night, and a sole black man is chatting on a cell phone, presumably, with his lady, telling her he’ll be home soon. Mind you, the street’s shadows loom. Ripples skip my spine. Uh huh, it’s a suburban hood, and yes, thank you, my mind goes to Trayvon Martin. Meekly, I wonder why ole Dude has no car or why his friends left him to walk. What really could have happened to leave him walking at that time of night? Suddenly, thoughts of why drivers need AAA as much, if not more, than auto insurance skate my mind. And just as I’m about to jump out of my plush-red theater seat, on the screen, a car rolls by, slows, and (damn) goes into a U-turn. Goodness. I curse. This is going to be one frightening film, being so close, as it is, to contemporary headlines.

Second red flag? you ask.

Rose keeps insisting that her parents are way cool and Chris being black will not freak them out in the least. Really? In what Universe? Even if she’s dated black guys since infancy, those lenient parents must yet be praying that, one day, Rose will come home, dragging her beau behind her, and he will be white. But, in this situation, the roots grow deeper than Rose returning home with a white boy. No no no. He’s got to be black, same as I’ve gotta be me, as Frank croons in one of my favorite Sinatra songs.

All of my coils are standing on end…for the preciously hopeful and naively sweet Chris. Now, it doesn’t help matters when Rose hits a deer on the roadway en route to the family homestead. Chris, being the man, gets out of the car and walks down the two-lane road and peeks at the fallen deer, wide-eyed with a helpless terror, unable to protect itself from whatever comes upon it. Okie dokie. Something in me…call it a writer…projects into the film and conjures this naive Chris may just find himself fallen and helpless, same as this struck deer. Oh no, I whisper. Moans waft up from the open-mouthed deer. My heart hurts.

It’s short lived.

Then I wonder why the darn deer is in the bushes on the side of the highway from which he bolts. The left. Wouldn’t he be groaning on the right side of the highway? But then again, maybe the impact sent the deer careening back across the road? I doubt it. I’m logistically challenged sometimes, but that was a doo-sie! So I’ll carry on!

Can a driver be charged for not reporting a hit deer, off the road, in the bushes? I mean, why, really, would a feisty young white woman with money behind a name like Rose Armitage feel the whim to call the police to report an accident, when the damage to her vehicle is minimal. What? A broken side-view mirror. I scratch my head and conjure this supposition: The police scene is for the audience to buy stock in the belief that Rose will defend “her man” against “the man.” If the police wants to see Chris’s ID, he can forget it: Rose informs him that she knows her rights, and Chris’s, too, because Chris wasn’t driving so he doesn’t need to show his ID.

Of course, later, we learn that Chris’s ID will be someone else’s very soon. Which is hilarious. The man, a blind art dealer, who bids for Chris’s body and mind, is aware of Chris’s renown photography, thus the reason for the clips of the new Canon 70D in some background shots. Not only that, interestingly enough, the officer doesn’t persist with a young black man’s ID, even though a black man about his age has recently gone missing in the surrounding area. That reminds me about how important missing black men are.

Chris and Rose eventually arrive at her parents’ home, which is a mansion, actually, with water on one side and is, according to the father, Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), miles away from the nearest neighbor across that water. And you know all sorts of dealings are happening on that property with an odd couple moving about, a black man and woman, folks Dean says he “kept on” after his parents died; kept on as if they were mentally challenged children, who needed him to provide their room and board or else they’d be as functional as abandoned puppies. Think sharecropping after slavery.

What follows is a sort of modern-day slavery. A twist on Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Although it pains me not to continue spoiling the movie, I shall reveal no more. Get Out is spellbinding, provocative, arresting. There is something for everybody in the movie. Comic relief abounds in LilRel Howery (Rod Williams), who can possibly make the most dispassionate person howl. That Betty Gabriel (Georgina) may have had the fewest lines, but she is a jaw-dropping presence from her first scene to her death scene, the film’s ending scene.The writing is fantastic, and I’m proud of Jordan Peele’s first film. Kudos! I wish him many  more auspicious box-office successes.

Betty Gabriel

Betty Gabriel as Georgina, the black woman whose body Grandmother Armitage inhabits.

***

I find it intriguing that Jordan Peele is biracial, the son of a white mother and a black father. Tickled, I wonder how his ‘Meet the Parents’ gala went when he met Chelsea Peretti’s parents, though I’m certain the meeting was wonderful…and definitely sans a horrific hue.

Reviewed by Claudia Moss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dance Is Story In Motion!

Dance Is Story In Motion!

Greetings loves!

In February, I had the pleasure of savoring an Afro-Brazilian dance performance, one performed by the only professional folk dance company in all of Brazil. That is rather difficult to imagine. My goodness, there must be hundreds of thousands of Afro-Brazilians who are talented enough to perform in and organize folk dance companies, but finances and opportunity, no doubt, play a significant, unseen part in keeping such dancers and companies to an army of one.

I am elated that I was in the right place at the right time to attend a performance of “Bahia.” The evening was quintessential pageantry: the grace and beauty of the dancers, the raw talent and stamina of the drummers and singers, the costumes, the women’s mesmerizing topless performance and the dancing that brought the audience face to face with the cast at the production’s end.

Considering I could not film the gala, I captured what I could in pictures…and I vlogged as much as I could. Thus, I share “Bahia” with you, from my lens to your heart! Enjoy!

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A beautiful dancer who continued to regal the audience after we spilled into The Kravis Center’s corridor after the show.

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An ecstatic ME enjoying the show!

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Athera ad Dancer and ME

You can view the vlog here: I saw an Afro-Brazilian dance production! / Weekly Vlog #2

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XOXO

Besos y Abrazos

Claudia

 

 

JP Howard’s SAY/MIRROR: POEMS AND HISTORIES

JP Howard’s SAY/MIRROR: POEMS AND HISTORIES

BOOK REVIEW  |  POETRY

 

JP Howard’s New Poetry Collection Showcases A Diva, A Poet And Love

By Claudia Moss  March 8, 2017

 

Say/Mirror: Poems And Histories

By JP Howard    

68 pp.  THE OPERATING SYSTEM

Publisher. $16.00

 

JP Howard

JP HOWARD

SAY/MIRROR: POEMS AND HISTORIES made its way to me last year, when I first learned of its release. Upon receiving it in the mail, I marveled at the cover, a sepia whisper of another time and place, a brown bombshell flashing a show-stopping smile in a vintage car and a title that made me reminiscent of the line: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of us all?”

I fluttered the book’s pages, enthralled at the breathtaking pictures. Like art, the collection snatched a prominent place on my bookshelf. I wouldn’t lift it again until February 2017. And when I did, the book, the sacred essence of memory, bid me stay.

As I ventured into JP Howard’s artistry, awed at the power of her poetic quill, I was humbled, remembering. Howard, who curates and nurtures Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon (WWBPS), a monthly Literary Salon Series based in New York, reached out and nurtured me once, years ago, our paths having never crossed. It happened after I’d received a hard review for a self-published book. Shook, I stared at the online review and slowly thanked the reviewer.

Then magically, Howard appeared on the reviewer’s site and left soft words that buoyed me above the heat, encouraging me to keep writing and praising me for what I’d accomplished. How could I not seek kinship with her on Facebook? And that is how I came to know of the tender, graceful and inimitable poet, JP Howard.

If the sweetest of treasure is a High Fashion Model Mother bequeathing her daughter with the gift of vintage photos of her strolling runways and regaling the 1940s and 1950s with her glamorous presence, then a major blessing for this book’s readers and me is that a poet severed her tongue’s umbilical cord to offer up a praise song for her mother and ours. That song yet echoes in my heart, and it has been weeks since I reached the collection’s final page.

Sipping the poems, I learned much about Ruth King. In an era when brown beauties were marginally esteemed, the incomparable King showed up in all of her regalia and showed out, long legs, Afro puffs, dazzling smiles and all. She lived. She experienced heartbreak. And she loved her little Diva Doll through the good and the taxing. Each poem sang its own harmony about her, charming me with the mirror’s image of a woman who mesmerized an era.

In other poems, I stared through time. Met a quiet, subtle, humble, leggy, long-haired and loving little  Diva Doll. She didn’t care for mirrors and flowing hair, studio hours and smile struggles. The little miss would much rather hold up in the library and keep secrets in poetry.

The collection’s poems sing with memory, reflection and creativity. Variety thrives. Phrases and stanzas invite memorization. Details regale. Howard’s voice is hypnotic. Her poetry’s emotion ties neat bows around my heart. I am standing in “rented summers in Atlantic City.” I see her “hollow eyes” peering like their “porcelain counterpart,” “buried in pale pink lace, on a rose plum clay platform.” I observe her smile, as she “sews seams around jagged hearts,” her “lips wired shut.”

And I love them both, the Diva and the Poet.

Although most of the poems are a mother/daughter dance of childhood, coming-of-age and learning to love, in others JP Howard’s activism shines a light on issues close to her heart.

Trayvon breathes, babies drift to the bottom of the bay, broken mamas let go, Bessie’s blues bleed, poets hurl lifelines, Ella wails, cycles of sadness spiral and lovers leave. Actually, the multiplicities of life stare up at readers from each page, in each poem, like a natural woman. There is even a poem, “Family Secret,” that takes the shape of a woman’s breast; in it, the daughter explains what it feels like to be five and watch a mother trying to slip away quietly.

My favorite poem is “Ninety.” I love the Diva’s unwavering audacity to love herself through the youth and the “silver ponytail slicked back.”  But the striking reality in the sheer complexity of the poet’s mama hums in the stanza:

“there are no roadmaps for aging Divas

just self-portraits lining walls

costume jewelry overflowing and

full-length minks, frayed now.

it is easier to live in the past

than in an aging body.”

The collection’s Achilles’ heel is its length. I want more, a Part 2. More of the poems. As many of the vintage Ruth King photos that would fill a coffee-table pictorial. I place my wishes on the wind. There will be another JP Howard collection of poetry soon. For that matter, the work of her inspiring sons may make a guest appearance in an upcoming offering.

I feel a tremendous connection with SAY/MIRROR: POEMS AND HISTORIES. One reason may be because I, too, am a Black lesbian mother and poet. And I, too, am the daughter of a transitioned Diva Mama, whose presence once set room’s aglow. Although my mother passed before her ninetieth birthday, like Ruth King, Clementine Young Moss was beautiful, complex,

loving and pained. Both women were Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.”

The nuances of meaning in the poetry collection’s title enamor me.

JP Howard looks in the mirror of the past and explores her voice, yesterday and today. Ruth King gazes in the mirror and asserts her worthiness to break beauty barriers of her time. The mirror is symbolic of a Diva Mama’s legacy not only in the outside world, but also in the intimate world of us, mother and me, me and mother, Juliet and Mama, in their Sugar Hill, Harlem apartment. In the mirror, the Diva eyes her Diva Doll, an object of a beauty she wasn’t, and the Diva Doll peers back at the beauty standard she is and wants to be her mother’s pretty. In the end, The Diva reminds the mirror, “I altered the perceptions of African-American fashion models of our time.”

If poignant poetry whets your palate and you have been away from poetry for a while, Howard’s SAY/MIRROR will take you by the hand and walk you home.

Reviewed by Claudia Moss

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A Failure to Communicate: Stories

A Failure to Communicate: Stories

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I have ever been a lover of literature, of the power of words to introduce new realities, challenge my view of the world and broaden my perspectives on people and ideologies.

In her premiere story collection, S. Andrea Allen dips her quill in the ink of creativity and offers up literature that broadens readers’ perspectives, I believe, on subjects not typically broached in contemporary story collections. Allen’s work demands thought, from its cover to its choice of stories and essays. When you part its pages, the book posts a sign, ‘No skating allowed,’ in the meaningful silence behind its provocative title. As a reader, you will be required to feel, reflect, and reexamine what you may have previously held as truth.

A Failure to Communicate lifts the curtain on the issue of the importance of communication, or the lack thereof, in the lives of Black women.

The collection opens with a story that hits home with women who suffer the brunt of body shaming and being made to feel as if they aren’t worthy because of their weight. Ava, whom everybody says is “pretty for a fat girl,” comes to see her value, when she finally walks away from an abusive partner. I appreciate this story even if I’m not a full-figured woman. I have voluptuous family and friends, and from their words, I know the damaging effects of society’s judgments about their size. In “Epiphany,” readers find another protagonist, Trish, who eventually decides that she can leave Jordan, her gambling, and hurled epithets, one of which is “Fat bitch! What you crying for, bitch?” behind.

Allen tackles the subjects most people don’t wish to discuss on the best of days, like what happens when a loved one takes her own life, leaving a plethora of unanswered questions in the aftermath. The thinking mind knows that communication is essential during turbulent times, but when we fail to talk about something we couldn’t stop from taking place, we tend to silence ourselves and others…to heal in isolation. But not Cynthia in “Lunch Date.” She spreads the unspoken across the table, drawing her long-time friend, Jay, into the light. Ten years after their beloved Vicky’s suicide, the friends finally open the lines of communication between them and begin the healing process.

My favorite story is the finale. How fitting to compile pieces centered on communication and entitle the last short story “Truth.” There is something about the magnetism in Arthurine’s voice and mannerism that entices me to want to read straight through the short story and into a novel. This piece is ripe with period atmosphere, drama, danger and the electric attraction between Arthurine and the woman for whom she bakes her prized caramel cake. I find it delightful that I’m planning a surprise birthday party in March for my baby sister, whose favorite pastry is a caramel cake.

Although the book’s subtitle denotes it as a story collection,  it is actually a compendium of stories and essays. Perhaps Allen will consider broadening the collection’s subtitle in a future visitation, although it, by no means, detracts from the grace of the work.

Since I enjoy movies, after reading the essay “Bi-racial Bride = Culturally White Wedding?”I appreciated Allen’s take on the striking absence of Black people from Bridesmaids, a hilarious film about a bi-racial bride, whose father is Black, mother white, and what happens on her wedding day. Mind you, there are no Blacks in the wedding party, Allen notes, or anywhere else, except for the token extras in the scenes panning the town. Outside of the father, who behaves as a shuffling white-faced comic (my take), the only other signs of Blackness are the bride’s so-called Black mannerisms. What the script writers wanted to portray in that one, besides off-color humor, eludes me, too.

My favorite essay, though, is “Jimmy B. and Chi-Chi Peak.” Why? I love James Baldwin. I love the legacy of work he left behind. I love that he announced that he was gay so no one could have the satisfaction of exposing him. I love that Allen fights her senior English teacher for the thrill of writing her book report on a writer who isn’t regaled on Mrs. Peak’s list of acceptable writers. Were I the narrator, I’d have waged the same battle. If Beale Street Could Talk is worthy, not to mention Baldwin’s collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, The Fire Next Time, and Giovanni’s Room, all critical reads that flipped and continue to flip America on its head with their in-your-face, revolutionary thought.

Not only do Allen and I share an affinity for Jimmy B., but also we love Langston Hughes.

In this collection, the writing is inviting, visual and confident. Allen is sure of her narrative prowess and proves it fully in the auspicious story of Arthurine and Truth. Her writing style in the personal essays guides the reader back to the past with authority on matters of race, injustice and feminism and the acumen of a voice that intends to not only be heard, but also to be taken seriously.

If you’re looking for a different sort of story collection hailing timely, tough subjects and showcasing lesbians in peril, reeling under the desire to communicate or standing up to speak against all odds, then this book is for you. No, there are no sex scenes. S. Andrea Allen, I will admit, does not write erotica. Instead, she chronicles the other side of sex, of what happens when you’re standing in the throes of compassion, self love and confrontation.

I look forward to reading the novel Allen is quietly penning.

https://www.blfpress.com/bookstore/a-failure-to-communicate

 

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S. Andrea Allen

 

 

 

 

 

La Toya Hankins’ Sophomore Novel Explores the Bonds of Sisterhood

La Toya Hankins’ Sophomore Novel Explores the Bonds of Sisterhood

BOOK REVIEW | FICTION

“La Toya Hankins’ Sophomore Novel Explores the Bonds of Sisterhood”
By Claudia Moss October 26, 2016

 

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K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood
By La Toya Hankins
236 pp. Resolute Publishing
Publishers. $13.99.

La Toya Hankins dedicates her heartwarming, sophomore novel “to her Sisters of the Dove and other members of sororities who support each other and don’t let different life choices stand in the way of true sisterhood.” But, in my heart, she also bestows it to me and every woman who has ever been blessed to know the bonds of true friendship with another woman or women.

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It’s Monday night, and Kiara Michaels awaits the start of her interview with the ladies of Kappa Alpha Rho Sorority, Incorporated. Before the meeting, she meets Gloria Allen and Donna Edwards. As the attractive young trio begins bonding, little do the sophomores know that they are slated for far more than a K-Rho line process. They are signing up for an unforgettable lifetime of sisterly bonding, unconditional love and support, friendship beyond the hallowed halls of Copper Road University and the experience of swimming with swans through the highs and lows of their lives.

I love so many aspects of Hankins’ riveting read. A Northerner transplanted to the South as a tenth-grader, I know and love the Southern milieu of fictional Blueburg, North Carolina, although I finished coming of age in Tuskegee, Alabama. Copper Road University, the setting in the opening of the novel, echoes, for me, what it was to walk the campus of Tuskegee Institute. Hankins’ title is delicious, soliciting a warm smile within every time I think of it. At my grandmother’s table, I savored soft, butter-smeared, golden biscuits, which my sibling and I devoured with cane, Alaga or K-Rho syrup, the latter a sweet treat that lingered on the tongue and palate, like La Toya’s novel. Although I never pledged a sorority while attending Tuskegee University, I was ever fascinated by the sisterhood the girls of various Greek organizations shared, and, to my delight, reading this novel invited me into a thoughtfully crafted, beautifully imagined fictional world of what many of my college friends experienced.
The characters are fully developed, so much so until I found it difficult to bid them good-bye for even the shortest time. Kiara Michaels, a legacy, her mother a lifetime sorority member, is studious, organized, no-nonsense, alluring and a member of the track team. Usually straightforward in most things, she harbors a secret that stifles her relationship with the other girls. Gloria, a brainy, peace-loving, gazelle-looking cutie, is a Political Science and Spanish major, whose hilarious references to movies in practically every conversation is endearing. And Donna, a Business and Psychology major, is the sharp-tongued sister who possesses a penchant for dishing hysterical tongue lashings to anyone who warrants them.
Hankins is a master at writing dialogue. Her lines ring true with the rhythms of campus speech. Her writing style flows, her pace perfect, the story line complete with ample twists and substantial turns. Unafraid to tackle hard issues, this author captures a violent rape scene, as Kiara, while pregnant, is violently beaten and raped by two young men in an empty club parking lot. Hankins balances the hard with the soft, when Donna and her college sweetheart Peter, a cheating hunk, learn to loving co-parent their two daughters, after their marriage ends in divorce.
Simply, this book works. There is more than enough drama to keep the reader turning pages or sliding a finger across an e-reader’s lit face. Effortlessly, it reveals the following truths: that secrets engender disappointment; lesbians can head organizations as efficiently as their straight sisters; without balance, people chance losing indispensable parts of themselves; with love and care, you can return from trauma; and sometimes, the person you’re looking for may be right under your nose.
Outside of a few comma omissions, which in no way detracts from the superb storytelling, this book is error free. Since I relished Hankins’ premier novel, SBF Seeking…, I anticipated the reading of K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood would leave me intrigued, laughing aloud and charmed with the author’s inimitable style. Not only do I highly recommend this novel, but also I am eager to read La Toya Hankins’ latest works, Challah and Callaloo (Love Wins series) and Heat Wave: Southport (Heat Wave series). Both novellas can be found on Smashwords.

K-Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Website: LatoyaHankins.com

A Book Review: HEART TROUBLE

A Book Review: HEART TROUBLE

Heart Trouble

Jae. Ylva Publishing, $9.99, E-Book, ISBN 978-3-95533-735-3 (pdf)

Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction.” So reads a Rumi quote in a book of Persian poetry presented to protagonist Laleh Samadi by her father. The eight-hundred-year-old wisdom pulses at the center of award-winning author Jae’s first medical romance, Heart Trouble. The story opens on Laleh arriving home from a long day as a waitress in her Aunt Nasrin’s restaurant to discover the heart-stopping reality of an unlocked apartment door. The intruder turns out to be Maman, her loving yet intrusive mother who has just filled Laleh’s frig with adas polo, “a rice, lentils, raisins and cinnamon” delight her daughter loves but doesn’t need. Over-protective, Maman visits to speak of a family friend who is marrying a Persian doctor. Happy and single, Laleh doesn’t fear being, as her mother says, torshideh, a pickled old maid, and she doesn’t want to sit through another family dinner with a man of her parents’ choosing. Before their visit ends, Laleh’s heart palpitates then races…so much so she and Maman wind up in the ER of Griffith Memorial Hospital, where Laleh collapses.

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Thus begins the romance between Dr. Hope Finlay, an Emergency Department physician, and Laleh, whose life is saved when Dr. Finlay uses a defibrillator to resuscitate her. But the unexpected happens, a rookie move. Electricity surges, Laleh’s arm jumps, and Dr. Finlay is struck. The beauty of what follows allows the reader to suspend belief and take a mystical plunge with Laleh and Hope into an empathetic adventure. The two women feel one another and are privy to what the other knows. Mysteriously, Laleh becomes a walking medical dictionary, while Hope suddenly understands and speaks Farsi.

A research enthusiast, Jae does an extraordinary job integrating medical terminology and procedure into the storyline. Reading about Laleh’s condition, tachycardia, “an arrhythmia caused by an abnormal electrical circuit” in the heart, is fascinating, and as beguiling as reading about Persian dishes, customs and language.

The German author, who recently translated the novel into her native tongue, masters the skill of creating three-dimensional characters. Both Laleh and Hope have intriguing back story, a cast of fascinating family and friends with whom they interact throughout the novel, and their own demons and hurdles that make them more relatable, more endearing, as the couple falls in love.

I enjoyed Jae’s supporting characters, Jordan and Jill. Jordan, Hope’s surgeon-buddy at the hospital, is sweet, although an incorrigible flirt. Good natured and humorous, she and Hope make for hilarious banter and, most importantly, their interracial friendship is refreshing on the page in light of alarming numbers of Black people brutalized by police in the streets of American cities. I am elated that Jordan will bask in the spotlight of her own story in Jae’s next novel and that her love interest will be “a virtual assistant who works mostly with authors.”

As for Jill, she is Laleh’s bff, an actress, who would cancel an audition if she thought Laleh needed her. I love that Jill forges ahead against MS while facing down the definite probability of  life in a wheelchair. Despite such a forecast, the sexy diva bows to love and allows “Crash,” her stuntwoman girlfriend, to love her without hiding who she is nor what she faces. Reading her story in Just Physical, a part of The Hollywood Series, will be a joy for this reviewer.

Set in Los Angeles, this touching narrative reminds readers to follow the heart, even seemingly through trouble, for it is worthy to light the path to love. Although Hope, a loner, came of age in the foster care system after having lost her mother, she finds love where she works, in a place she spends holidays and overtime to avoid forming emotional attachments that seem doomed to fail. Likewise, the heart’s beat, or lack thereof, leads Laleh through endless days in the restaurant, two failed relationships and feelings that she’s not living up to her parents’ standards straight into the arms of a lover, who takes her breath away, and who, ironically, is a doctor, a mate of her parents’ persuasion, if they can accept their daughter’s sexuality.

I appreciated the author’s sense of humor and that of her characters in this well-written page turner.

Reviewed by Claudia Moss, author, blogger, vlogger and content creator (September)