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Publication: The Baltimore Sun
Author: Donna Rifkind
Date: August 14, 2005
Half coming-of-age tale and half tangled history of a modern American city, Terrell's second novel manages to be both intimate and epic. Narrated by a watchful 14-year-old named Jack Acheson, the book begins in the mid-1950s on the brink of a new era in Kansas City, Mo.
Jack's father Alton, a schemer with big dreams but little cachet, is determined to cash in on the city's expansion when a new interstate highway transforms the outlying cornfields into suburbs. His success depends on the cooperation of local mobsters and on the area's richest and most unscrupulous real-estate developer, Prudential Bowen, who is happy to manipulate Alton for his own avaricious purposes. With Bowen's approval, Alton gets busy buying up cheap Kings County farmland for luxury housing. At the same time, he coerces black families to move to the city's east side in order to scare the white population into the new suburbs.
Meanwhile, young Jack, who works as Alton's more or less willing accomplice, falls in love with Bowen's granddaughter. As these teenagers grow up, Terrell weaves their relationship in and out of the real-estate drama with remarkable skill, making every personality here both multidimensional and affecting. Of all the larger-than-life characters here, however, the largest is the city itself, eventually all but ruined by greed and speculation, yet still stubbornly alive.