Black Ice

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

BLACK ICE provides glimpses into the mind and life of a young girl attending a prestigious prep school in New England. In 1971, Lorene Cary, an academically gifted African American teenager from Philadelphia, is invited to attend St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire. Cary looks forward to the educational challenge and is excited to learn about upper-class and New England living, money, power, and the handsome Mike Russell, a St. Paul’s senior who helps recruit new African American students.

Cary unravels and compares her childhood experiences to her adolescent ones at St. Paul’s. She enters the school as an ambitious student with a mission to “turn it out,” both academically and socially. Amidst both successes and failures, her first year’s experiences range from romance and sex to the mischief of petty stealing, lying, and smoking marijuana. The older Cary feels a different pressure in her second year, serving as the first female vice-president, making decisions that, at times, alienate her from some of her closest friends. She experiences a frustrating self-awakening as she realizes that she lacks skills which her upper-class schoolmates take for granted. After graduation, she goes on to earn degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Returning to teach at St. Paul’s, where she later becomes a trustee, she feels that her bittersweet experience changed her into a “crossover artist.”

BLACK ICE, a moderately toned...

(The entire section is 520 words.)