Selina Boyce, a young black girl growing up among Barbadian immigrants in a section of Brooklyn. Selina is a sensitive, intelligent child, extremely attached to her free-spirited father and at fierce odds with her strong-willed, practical mother, both recent immigrants from Barbados. Throughout most of the novel, Selina attempts to act as mediator between her beloved but hopelessly idealistic father and her hard, manipulating mother, whose only dream is to buy a home of her own, rather than run the boardinghouse in which the Boyce family lives. The explosive tension within the family is matched by the internal sexual and emotional tension within the adolescent Selina. She watches helplessly as her family disintegrates, and she struggles to escape the destruction through a personal metamorphosis, a transformation from an “invisible” black child into a self-reliant woman in search of her roots.
Deighton Boyce, Selina’s father. Deighton’s impractical idealism leads him to various dead ends. He chases one grand scheme to achieve fame and financial security after another, only to abandon the projects when success or acceptance is not immediate. Still, Selina adores her free-spirited father and shares his whimsical dreams. When Deighton receives word that he has inherited a piece of land in Barbados, he and Selina begin to spin a dream of a return to the homeland as prosperous landowners....
(The entire section is 575 words.)