People Person is a darkly comedic novel of family from Candice Carty-Williams, author of the much-praised Queenie.
Nikisha, Danny, Dimple, Elizabeth and Prynce share very little in common--besides their mostly absent father, Cyril Pennington, who fathered five kids with four women in a five-mile radius in the span of 10 years. Nikisha and Prynce, the oldest and youngest of Cyril's offspring, share a mother; Dimple and Elizabeth boast birthdays just weeks apart in between the two. Danny, the second eldest, once served time in prison and now centers his life on his young toddler; Dimple is a somewhat desperate aspiring influencer with a problematic on-again, off-again boyfriend; Prynce juggles phone calls from any number of women each day; Elizabeth is on track to become a doctor and lives with her long-time girlfriend.
The five meet just once as young adults, when Cyril collects them all to explain, "This is so none of you ever buck up with each other on road and fall in love or have sex or any of dem tings." Each assumes that will be the last they see of one another--until one day Dimple calls Nikisha in a panic after maybe having accidentally killed her boyfriend when he tried to strangle her for breaking up with him.
The siblings' personalities weave together amid a plot as heartfelt as it is hilarious. Carty-Williams probes hard questions about race, microaggressions and abandonment within a larger, somehow softer story about what makes a family, what makes a friend and what happens when the two are one and the same. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer