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“Sometimes a good tune is all you got, boy; your best friend, your home…” From Rosalyn Story’s More Than You Know

Although it took longer than the time I had expected in reading it, I have finally finished the well written, and compelling More Than You Know, by Rosalyn Story.

To give back ground, she is my godmother’s cousin, and I had received an autographed copy of her book about three years ago, because of the knowledge of my writing a manuscript. While writing, I have stayed away from reading fiction, while I was in the process of working on and editing Blue Lines. I have always been afraid that someone else’s thoughts could end up in my work, and with the glut of bad “Black Fiction,” I’ve steered away from fiction.

While in D.C. for the inauguration in 2009, I was lucky enough to meet Rosalyn Story, and from our writers Wii night with her cousin/Cher Dancer/Author Jamal Story (12:34 A Slice Novel) to our laborious journey to and back from the Inauguration of Barack Obama (over 10 miles on foot) we had the opportunity to become friends. So when my godmother sent me the copy of Rosalyn’s new novel,  Wading Home I finally had to read the first one.

More Than You Know, is the well written late 1990’s story of a Kansas City couple Olivia and L.J. Tillman, surrounding buried secrets that threaten to destroy the fabric of their relationship. Taking place in the Midwest and New York, the story born in chaos, follows jazzman L.J.’s circuitous journey to return to the love he once knew. And the past secrets that he promised to hold dear to his heart for his entire life.

Rosalyn’s musical background, she is a professional violinist, is amazingly reflected in the pages of her novel, as she describes the continuing plot as it circles around the rich jazz background that serves to push the plot along using each note. I as a writer, enjoyed the nuanced descriptions that perfectly shaped the character’s first time making love (note to self, I need to rework Blue Lines 3 page scene).

As a novel, the story is enhanced by a litany of flashback scenes that eventually weave a narrative that enhances the background of the story to give the reader a true understanding of each of the characters motivations for their choices, and how they are eventually understood, and resolved.

As a writer, the most interesting benefit that I got from reading this novel was the character description of the female protagonist of this story, Olivia. There were two distinct items that struck me I the development of her character that made me feel that I had nailed writing my female character Keypsiia Walker, which has always been one of my fears writing my manuscript. In one scene while she and L.J. were courting, he took her to a party where the women were older than she was. She felt that he was trying to embarrass her, and was willing to walk home, and in that I saw my Keypsiia in one of her moods, and as explained in More Than You, she was mad just because, and she knew that she had no good reason to be mad, yet she was. As I’ve said before, if the reader feels this is a genuine action, or reaction to her situation, or rather a female reader can see the authenticity in this character, my character, then I am doing my job as a writer. The second scene, or scenes rather, that struck me were the descriptions of Olivia in her private moments. The two most telling were in similar scenes 1) sitting outside by an accident scene, with her knees to her chin, and arms around her legs, and the description of her curls wafting in the wind, and 2) when sitting on a chair in her “home,” also in their courting process, where we see her in that same pensive stance. I realized that in describing Keypsiia, she had similar habits and nuances that were prominent in her solitary time, at Coker Arboretum on the campus at UNC Chapel Hill, she sat with the “sun’s glow bath(ing) her,” with “her legs folded under her form.” And when she sat in the damp weather outside her dorm with “her hair in a loose collection of large aimless curls,” she sat “huddled on the cement stairwell,” of her dorm. These scenes of More Than You Know, were reassuring to me as a writer, that though I still have work to do, editing/condensing my ideas, I am headed in the right direction.

With all of that said, I highly recommend Rosalyn Story’s More Than You Know, which is a testament to the writing, being that I limit and am very picky about what I read.

The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.