On the Rooftop

Ecco: HarperCollins. Sept. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780063139961. $28.99. F
In 1950s San Francisco, Vivian manages her daughters’ musical group, the Salvations; but when they get a chance at a record deal, unexpected life situations threaten Vivian’s dream of stardom. As the girls make decisions about their futures, including romance and marriage, Vivian’s Black neighborhood is being gentrified, and she finds she has to deal with many changes. As the novel’s perspective jumps between Vivian and her daughters Ruth, Esther, and Chloe, each character gets treated to a fully developed and satisfying arc, while the minor characters breathe life into the story of this neighborhood. Sexton’s (The Revisioners) writing is expressive and lyrical, sometimes verbose and sometimes soaring, like her standout descriptions of nightclub scenes. There’s a somewhat unbelievable moment when one music producer states that it’s hard to find a girl group, but Sexton’s third novel is, overall, a solid and realistic tale with hopeful undertones.
VERDICT The themes of racism, family, and Black lives could make Sexton’s latest a read-alike for the novels of Jacqueline Woodson. A good addition to any public library’s fiction collection.
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