Acting Out Author:Benilde Little Benilde Little, the beloved bestselling author of Good Hair and The Itch, is a writer whose works are touchstones for legions of people because they reach deeply into readers' lives. Her new novel will do that again. Acting Out is the probing, poignant, and ultimately uplifting story of a woman caught between the life she thought she was suppose... more »d to lead and the dreams she gave up long ago.
Ina West grew up independent and solitary, raised by an artistic, unavailable mother and a reliable, loving father. As a twenty-something photographer, Ina landed in Manhattan's bohemian art scene after college, at the same time that she started dating the devoted, hardworking Jay Robinson. When her mother's mental state began to deteriorate, her closest cousin became dangerously ill, and her free artist's lifestyle put her in some vulnerable situations, Ina found comfort in Jay's trajectory into the safe, privileged world of the African-American upper middle class. Forsaking her independence and creativity for the joys of family life and material wealth, she married Jay, had three children, and moved to the suburbs; gradually, Ina gave herself completely to motherhood and the upkeep of their increasingly luxurious lifestyle. And they had it all: the SUV, the lavish home, the expensive but casual wardrobe.
Then one day, after twelve years, Jay comes home from work and announces that he's leaving. Amid her shock, grief, and fear, a single clear truth emerges: though still physically present, Ina herself had checked out of the marriage long ago.
As she struggles with single motherhood, reduced financial stability, and the emotional roller coaster of her breakup, Ina undertakes a journey of self-discovery with no sure destination. She moves to a smaller house, rekindles an old love, and takes up photography again. The old adventuresome, independent Ina begins to resurface, tempered by a self-knowledge borne of experience: she has learned how to look unflinchingly into her past and to determine what she wants for her future.
Little delves into some of the most private and difficult questions people face. This moving, ambitious, and accomplished novel explores the fallout -- and the healing -- that can occur when the African-American dream crumbles, and when a woman is torn between divergent lifestyle choices. Ina's story of loss and courageous self-revelation will resonate for any woman who has struggled with finding her path in life.« less