Cover image for Secret love
Secret love
Schneider, Bart.
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Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2001.
Physical Description:
275 pages ; 24 cm
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 "This extraordinary novel explores our deepest yearnings for joy and self-realization." - The Washington Post
Jake Roseman is a forty-five-year-old attorney and media darling who leads civil rights protests with a surer touch than he manages his personal life. When Nisa Bohem, a young black activist and actress, is drawn to Jake, the two start a playful, complex romance. Nisa's actor friend Peter also crosses the color line in his love for Simon Sims, the estranged son of a renowned Baptist minister, who tries to reconcile his homosexuality with his participation in the Nation of Islam. As they open their hearts to love, each struggles for personal and spiritual equilibrium - a daunting task amid the political and social upheaval surrounding them in mid-1960's San Francisco.
"Hip, soulful . . . irresistible . . . Secret Love is simultaneously a love story and a fine-grained investigation of race relations . . . Schneider is a savvy and empathetic writer. . . . He leaps into his characters' souls with the brashness of a bop trumpeter." - The New York Times Book Review
"Heroes as thoroughly good-natured as Roseman don't appear very often in contemporary fiction. He's an absolute mensch, a big-hearted, brave, self-effacing hero." - San Francisco Chronicle

Author Notes

Bart Schneider , a San Francisco native, is the founding editor of The Hungry Mind Review . His debut novel, Blue Bossa , was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in First Fiction and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Schneider seems well on his way to making the San Francisco of the 1960s and `70s his own personal Yoknapatawpha County. Not only does he evoke the streets of the city with an almost poetic precision, he populates his fictional world with characters who capture both the energy and the ambiguity of the place and the times. Part of the lure of the `60s and of San Francisco has always been the availability of the forbidden; Schneider uses this theme masterfully but never predictably. In a double love story set against the civil-rights activism of the early `60s, four characters embrace forbidden relationships with tenderness and passion and then must deal with the emotional fallout. Jack Roseman is a 45-year-old activist lawyer in love with Nina Boehm, a twentysomething black actress; Nina's friend, Peter, also an actor, is in love with Simon Sims, who must reconcile his homosexuality with both his upbringing in the Baptist Church and his commitment to the Nation of Islam. Yes, Schneider deals sensitively with all the political, social, and, racial questions these relationships suggest, but what makes the novel soar is the intimacy with which he portrays individuals in love and in pain. Like Baldwin in Another Countryand its passion^-Schneider uses the drama of forbidden relationships as a way of approaching his real subject: the human heart in turmoil. Schneider's Blue Bossa was among the best first novels of 1998; this one will be among the best novels of any kind in 2001. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

The new novel by the author of Blue Bossa is a story of two secret loves, of the kind that at the time the book is set 1960s San Francisco were both afraid to speak their name. Hero Jake Roseman is a civil rights lawyer, high in the councils of the city, who falls hard for Nisa, a lovely young black demonstrator. Since he also has family troubles at home, with two kids trying to recover from their mother's suicide and an elderly, crankily racist father, he does his best to keep Nisa away from them, much to her annoyance. Meanwhile, Simon Sims, a bright young black man drawn to the new Muslim cause despised by his Baptist minister father, nurses a homosexual passion for a white actor, but is also drawn by furtive gropings in the park. The stories of these characters move in parallel, both coming to little climaxes and then fading away. The novel offers a relaxed, friendly read, with a great feel for its time and place and some moving and dramatic moments. But the lead characters, despite nice establishing touches and some well-turned speeches on themes of the era, never seem very convincing, and the lack of narrative drive and tension in the book make reading it ultimately a rather pallid experience. Author tour. (Mar. 3) FYI: Schneider is the founding editor of the Hungry Mind Review, now renamed the Ruminator Review. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Founding editor of the Hungry Mind Review, Schneider follows up his debut, Blue Bossa, with a story of two romances that cross racial boundaries in 1960s San Francisco. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.