Though silk is one of the world’s most luxurious fabrics, you wouldn’t know it by these SILK SHEETS, James D. Jackson’s story about a woman’s sexual awakening. While Sheets isn’t a total disaster, the story didn’t keep me warm.
The tale involves three points of view: Tanya, the naïve protagonist who discovers her sexuality later in life; Charlene, the woman with a little more lesbian experience under her belt; and William, the man who surprises them all in the end.
When Silk Sheets begins, Tanya is an over-achieving high school student, destined to make something of herself and escape from the derelict neighborhood in which she grew up. Her father, a lousy provider, shifted all the financial responsibilities to her mother, and left her without a strong male role model. But her dreams will not be deferred, and she strives to create her own public speaking company.
Tanya’s neighbor is Charlene, a sexually-charged young lady who gets kicked out her house after her father finds her with woman’s head between her legs. Soon after she heads to Clark-Atlanta University, where she begins having an affair with her biology professor. It’s when that relationship takes a wrong turn that Charlene runs into Tanya, now a student at Howard University. They share a sultry night after, one that leads Tanya in questioning whom she is. She gets over her fear, and the two move in together after graduation.
William comes into play awkwardly as a blast from Charlene’s scandalous past, now about to get
married to Tanya’s best friend, Donna. His character doesn’t provide much else.
Jackson creates a couple of love scenes that will ruffle your Sheets, but as a whole, the story just didn’t do it for me. He doesn’t effectively capture the essence of a black lesbian, and it shows as the novel progresses; when Tanya seeks advice from Donna’s mother, a sociologist, she has some outlandish thoughts about homosexuality that don’t make much sense. The plot was also jumbled and clunky, and the characters came out of place, with no transition as to who is speaking.
Silk Sheets may be a quick read, but it’s one that leaves me cold.
Reviewed March-April 2006