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Better Than I Know Myself.

Better Than I Know Myself by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant St. Martin's Press, June 2004 $24.95, ISBN 0-312-27309-6

The love and support girlfriends provide for one another is a special bond that anchors us through the seasons of life and love. Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant capture the essence of this truism with aplomb in Better Than I Know Myself, a compelling story about three women whose lives become forever intertwined through a chance encounter their sophomore year at Columbia University. Jewel is a teen television sensation trying to fit in, Regina is a rebellious BAP ready to explore life beyond suburbia, and Carmen is a product of the projects, determined that an education will remove the shackles of poverty. While the differences between the girls are palpable, an invisible umbilical cord connects and strengthens them even in the midst of dissension.

When the story begins, two of the three friends have just arrived at the cemetery to visit the gravesite of the third. The story then loops back to the early 1980s when the girls are high-school seniors, each in her own world, anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters. The authors seamlessly weave the life stories of each character throughout the book, commingling events of the past, present and future.

Even if your girlfriends do not fit the prototypes presented, the story resonates because the authors have done an outstanding job of displaying the vital elements that are a part of any lasting friendship. The plot deftly examines the personal fears and anxieties that are brought to the surface in friendships when milestones are achieved and obstacles encountered. The novel's engaging prose and its provocative portrayal of life evoke a gamut of emotions from tears to laughter.

The book's interlocking themes of friendship and trust are universal and will appeal to women of all ages and races. Them is no doubt that the friendship of the authors played an integral role in the shaping of this satisfying story. Kudos to DeBerry and Grant on a job well-done.--Kalyn Johnson

Kalyn Johnson is a lawyer practicing in New York and a coauthor of The BAP Handbook: The Official Guide to the Black American Princess (Broadway June 2001).
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Author:Johnson, Kalyn
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2004
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