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IN BRIEF

Fiction

June 02, 1996|ERIKA TAYLOR

BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY by Connie Briscoe (HarperCollins: $23; 375 pp.). Love, careers and racism are the three main concerns of Connie Briscoe's second novel. "Big Girls Don't Cry" spans 22 years in the life of Naomi Jefferson, an African American woman trying to find her way in the world. As a teenager in the 1960s, Naomi is mostly concerned with the impending loss of her virginity. It is not until her beloved brother, Joshua, dies in an accident on his way to a civil rights demonstration that Naomi begins to question the larger forces that have shaped her life. Yet the questions have no answers and she only becomes more confused. Drifting through her 20s with one inappropriate man after another, Naomi turns her attention to professional life. Finally, when it appears she has sadly compromised her dreams, an unexpected series of events puts Naomi back on the right track.

"Big Girls Don't Cry" is the sort of novel that fits into one's life without changing it. It can be read in its entirety on the beach or gone through a few pages at a time before falling asleep. Briscoe has written an unabashedly sentimental book that may not be great literature, but contains an infectious hope and optimism.

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