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Pieces of Dreams by Donna Hill
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-020-4
I received a chain letter this morning that listed a number of things every woman should have. At the top of the list was "One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you've come."

For Maxine Sherman, Quinn Parker just might be one and the same.

Maxine had been in love with Quinn since she was six years old. Maxine and Quinn were two sides of a lover's triangle in Donna Hill's A Private Affair. Nikita Harrell was the other. Near the end of A Private Affair, Quinn left Maxine in San Francisco to return to Nikita in New York.

Pieces of Dreams, the eagerly awaited sequel to A Private Affair, begins three years after Quinn and Maxine's breakup. The couple is once again brought together by a tragedy. Told in alternating voices, Pieces of Dreams, is Maxine and Quinn's story.

It is also a story of choices, second chances, commitments and what really happens to dreams deferred. Pieces of Dreams exists on several levels and Donna Hill has developed each of those levels well by allowing the characters to speak for themselves directly to the readers.

There is enough backstory to explain much of the action that took place in A Private Affair. So, while it is not necessary to read the first book, a reader's understanding of the characters and what they have gone through to reach this point in their lives can only be enhanced by starting with A Private Affair. (As an added bonus, readers will already be familiar with the story when the made-for-TV movie airs later this year!)

In Pieces of Dreams, Donna Hill has also provided an unabashed tribute to those unsung heroes the men she says epitomize "the depth and compassion of so many Black men." She embraces those Black men who can stand up and be counted on to do the right thing . . . in business, in the community and at home. Strong, yet sensitive men.

Pieces of Dreams is sheer perfection. The characters are human, well-drawn and, while they don't always come up with the right answers, they do ask the right questions. The secondary characters lend support where needed. Lawyers Sean Michaels and Khendra Phillips, Nick Hunter, Parris McKay, Taj Burrell, Jewell Avery characters from other Donna Hill stories receive honorable mentions.

Donna Hill is one of my favorite writers because she is constantly looking for different modes of expression. Pieces of Dreams has a spot on my keeper shelf.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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