Top positive review
A Multi-faceted Book of Two Bi-racial Girls.
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2016
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Swing Time, a multifaceted story of two biracial girls growing up in significantly different homes who become inseparable friends but face divergent destinies.
Tracey and the Narrator (unnamed) meet in 1982 as they are both signing up for a ballet class at a church in a working-class section of London. Both are mixed race with the narrator having a black intellectual ambitious mother (of Caribbean descent) while her white father who is nurturing but less ambition. Tracey’s mother, on the other hand is white, ignorant, indulgent and unattractive and her criminal father spends most of his time in jail leaving Tracey morally directionless. Tracey has the talent and ends up on stage with a dancing career while the narrator begins work as a personal assistant to an Australian Madonna-like pop star named Aimee. Aimee decides to build a school for girls in West Africa and the narrator takes on the complicated dynamics of working in a country entrenched in poverty and old beliefs taking assignments from a unstable boss. She reports, "I scheduled abortions, hired dog walkers, ordered flowers, wrote Mother's Day cards, applied creams, administered injections, squeezed spots, and wiped very occasional break-up tears.". The story begins in 2008 as the narrator is reeling from the embarrassment of being fired and then moves back and forth in time and location from London to New York to West Africa. The chapters headings are numbered but not identified as to time or location and so it takes a minute to figure out the location and time frame. It is written from the first-person narrative making the identification of who is speaking easier to determine. Some of the characters, although central to the story, seemed to be not fully realized. Intelligently written and researched. 4 stars