165 Easton Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ
It is 1969 and Cecil Street is "feeling some kind of way" so the residents decide to have two block parties. Joe, a long-ago sax player has turned his eye across the street to a newly-arrived young southern beauty even as he is suddenly haunted by memories of his horn-playing nights and his affection for a shy, soft hooker from years ago. Joe's wife Louise, a licensed practical nurse, is losing her teeth to gum disease and losing her happiness because of Joe's wandering attention. Their teenaged daughter Shay is consumed with helping her best friend and next-door neighbor Neet who has gotten pregnant by a corner boy. And Neet's mother Alberta is shunned by the block because of her immersion in a religion that has no name. As the novel opens the first block party has ended and a naked woman has secretly taken up residence in Joe and Louise's cellar.
McKinney-Whetstone's superb gift for language and storytelling, for crafting scenes that leave the reader breathless, for distilling a complex of human emotion in a well-turned phrase are on full display here. She portrays the community, the times with precision and compassion in an unforgettable story that gets under the skin. As the novel builds to the second block party, the past becomes as immediate as the present, condemnable acts become righteous, and what is tragic is also filled with hope.
I decided to start Reno Motorcycle Riders Group because I wanted to be part of a group of people who enjoyed my passion... I was excited and nervous. Our group has grown by leaps and bounds. I never thought it would be this big.
— Henry, started Reno Motorcycle Riders