(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Scenes from a Sistah consists of three parts, detailing the narrator’s life in Fort Lauderdale, her life in Atlanta, and her life in New York. Each episode in the novel focuses on business life and personal life, with Reesy Snowden serving as a foil for the narrator, Misty Fine.

Misty is a successful property manager in Fort Lauderdale. Readers are told little about her job itself, as the narrative focuses more extensively on the narrator’s love life. Misty’s love interest is Stefan Adams, a lawyer in the firm of Snowden & Snowden, the legal firm of Reesy’s parents. Misty anticipates marriage; Stefan offers an arrangement of cohabitation until he becomes partner in the firm. Reesy, however, tells Misty that it is unlikely Stefan will ever be made a partner. She also sees quite clearly that he is a much less competent lover than Misty is willing to admit.

The relationship turns bad when Stefan’s mother comes for a visit. Relatively young since she became a mother at age sixteen, Ms. Adams has a wasp waist and a sizable bosom. Stefan is enthralled with his mother and also with breasts in general, being a faithful visitor to topless bars. The final break occurs when, in his sleep, Stefan clutches Misty’s breast, suckling and urinating while still sleeping. Misty cleans the bed but says nothing. The next time it happens, however, Misty confronts Stefan, who is in denial, accuses Misty of deception, and finally hits her in the face. That act ends the relationship altogether.

Luckily for Misty, Rich Landey, her boss from corporate headquarters in Atlanta, takes great interest in her work and offers her a job in Atlanta. Faced with the obviously disastrous outcome of her relationship with Stefan, Misty accepts the job offer and transfers to Atlanta, with all expenses paid by the generous corporation, Burch Financial.

A center of African American culture, Atlanta is “Chocolate City” for Misty. Her apartment complex is filled with “up-and-coming African-Americans.” Misty decorates her apartment with African art and art by Frank Frazier, an African American artist who began his career very young in Harlem. As she hangs her art, Misty reflects that she was unable to display these art works when she lived with Stefan, since he considered their apartment to be too small for such displays.

Professionally, the move to Atlanta represents a promotion rather than a lateral move. In Fort Lauderdale, she was a property manager; she now is responsible for several properties, some of which are out of state and require some...

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(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

McDonald, Katrina Bell. Embracing Sisterhood: Class, Identity, and Contemporary Black Women. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Discusses the representation of African American “sisterhood” in contemporary American culture.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Scenes from a Sistah, by Lolita Files. January 6, 1997. Compares Files to Terry McMillan and focuses on her crude but funny dialogue.