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Love of My Own by E,lynn Harris Literary Analysis

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Essay title: Love of My Own by E,lynn Harris Literary Analysis

An ambitious young single woman convinces a black billionaire to let her edit her own hip hop magazine but the married billionaire expects more than a business relationship. The billionaire hires an openly gay lawyer to run the business and the already intertwined relationships get even more tangled from there. That's the premise of the new E. Lynn Harris novel, A Love of My Own

Zola Norwood, editor in chief of Bling Bling magazine, is busy trying to make a name for her publication at the same time she's trying to manage two relationships, a gay male companion, and a couple of very different female friends. Raymond Tyler Jr., a favorite E. Lynn Harris character from previous books, returns as the CEO of Bling Bling, who has just moved to New York after a breakup with his boyfriend and is now struggling to maintain his celibacy in the face of temptation.

The novel takes us into a world where attractive, wealthy young African Americans have plenty of money, flawless taste, and fabulous jobs that enable them to attend the hottest parties and to summer in the Hamptons.

In a familiar structural device from Harris's previous works, Zola and Raymond take turns narrating the story chapter by chapter as the characters spend a year in New York City. The novel is divided into three books taken from three popular songs: "I Wish I Didn't Miss You" (Angie Stone), "Everything Must Change" (Oleta Adams) and "Ready for Love" (India.Arie). At 387 pages, A Love of My Own may be Harris's longest book ever.

Harris's greatest skill is as a gifted storyteller. The plot twists and turns and shakes and rattles like a wooden rollercoaster until it slows down and gently coasts into the landing ramp. It takes a lot of time to climb the first hill, but the force of the momentum that follows keeps you in your seat. The third book is the most exciting as the threads of the story unravel to reveal the hidden secrets, but I wanted the pieces to be reassembled a little less symbolic than they are in the ending.

As usual, Harris's novel is extremely timely and current. The first of the three books that make up the novel shows how Zola and her magazine respond to the death of Aaliyah Haughton in August of 2001. The second book focuses on the September 11 tragedy in New York last year, while the third book even shows the characters responding to the Oscar night victories for Halle Berry and Denzel Washington from spring of 2002.

No doubt, timeliness is part of what makes Harris's books so popular, but I'm not sure how that translates for readers 10 years from now. Nevertheless, the use of timely pop culture references has become a staple of black popular literature in recent years.

Harris opens much of his own life for careful readers of the novel. Located in New York, where Harris has lived the past year, the character Raymond considers moving to Atlanta, where Harris may be moving as well soon. And certainly many of the events and places described come from Harris's own personal experiences, not from a travelogue.

The two main characters, Zola and Raymond, are interesting and well developed as they work for a boss who is even more fabulous than they are. Of course, I found myself identifying mostly with Raymond, the openly gay lawyer, and I felt proud to see him putting his principles ahead of his portfolio.

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