At a typical book signing, she has been known to approach people thusly: "You want a hot novel? Come here. I'll show you one." Then she leads them to "Departures" and says, "There's a lot of dirt, gossip and sex in it. You'll really like it."
Invariably, by sheer power of personality, she induces them to buy her book. And were it not for her supreme self-assurance, her deep-seated belief in the stories she has to tell and the characters crying out to tell them, and her relentless pursuit of her goal, she would never have gotten "Departures" published--let alone "Connecting," her second novel, published by New American Library's popular Penguin Books imprint.
"Connecting," Bellamy likes to explain, is a sequel to her first novel, with most of the original characters (at least those who are still alive) returning, a few years older and some, even wiser than they were in "Departures." The central figure in both books is Amber Alston, a precoious and endearing ten year old in the first book and now a seventeen year old who has been thoroughly seasoned by her experiences with her abusive mother, Paula Gray (a wonderful "villain"), an her contact with her half-sisters and assorted colorful characters who light up the Philadelphia neighborhood where both stories are set.
Somewhat in the manner of William Faulkner in "As I Lay Dying," Bellamy opens each chapter with the name of a key character and propels the narrative forward through each character's unique vision and point of view. Pretty bold stuff from an author who's never gone to college but whose street smarts clearly equal, or surpass, her book smarts.
Although I haven't yet picked up a copy of "Connecting," I look forward to a continuation of the saga of Bellamy's heavy duty fictional African-American neighborhood in Philadelphia, where gambling, high-fashion, sex, fun and earnest family values compete for dominance among a cast of unforgettable characters, many of themm children, full of life's passions and promise.
Bellamy revisits the neighborhood in her third novel, "Arrivals," scheduled for publication in 2006.
Her beautiful daughter Alia serves as the cover girl in an idealized version of her Philadelphia neighborhood in "Departures." And several of the characters might bear some resemblance to people Bellamy knows or has known. But she insists that her books are essentially works of fiction that deserve to be read solely for their sheer entertainment value.
Along the way, readers will discover Bellamy's preoccupation with astrological signs (each character bears the mark of Leo, Taurus or Scorpio, for example, and acts accordingly). The dialogue is fast, realistic and engaging, and the intersecting plotlines will leave you breathless.
Not bad for this passionate earth mother who swears, "These stories come right through my brain to my hands onto the computer screen."
Worst Book I've Read In a Very Long Time, March 21, 2006
By citygirl (new york) - See all my reviews
There were so many reasons that I gave this book only one star; the first of which is that I couldn't give it any less. My primary complaint when reading this book is that the writing style is SO flat. Imagine reading more than 300 pages of dialogue expressed in this manner (not an actual excerpt from the book): "I told her that we never go out anymore. She said that we would get together soon. I said I was looking forward to it. She called me on Saturday. I was so happy." If you don't believe that it was really written this way, then pick a page from the book and see if I'm not telling you the truth.
My next complaint is regarding the unlikely situations....like digging up and beating a dead man, then bragging about it to the next man that you meet (who is stupid enough to find it both amusing and appealling) and so easily winning the favor of someone whose career you have jeopardized at an important fashion show because you decided to spread your um....wings.
Can we talk for a minute about the cast of unnecessary characters? There were far too many people to keep up with; friends, family members, babysitters, band members, nice lady from the hospital - the list goes on and on and on. I found myself skipping whole chapters just to get back to where Amber, Horace and Paula left off. Truthfully, it wasn't even as if I were genuinely interested in what was going on with them either. I just hate to start a book and not get to the end - although the journey to page 323 was not enjoyable.
It's finally over and I have filed this book exactly where it belongs....for the janitor's sake, I hope he doesn't mistake it for something worth salvaging.
Down the stairs..., March 15, 2005
By Shamontiel L. Vaughn "Web Editor, Author, Rev... (Chicago) - See all my reviews
This book started off phenomenal. I was all over Amber's tale with her crazy, nymphomaniac mother, Paula. I enjoyed reading about a young girl's struggle to stay a young girl. I questioned why the author never said anything about the one sister being allowed in the bedroom and the screaming. Don't punk out when you bring it up. But the other stories just went way offboard. One woman flying out of town for a guy she barely knows. A dog who is commanded to kill not going for the neck first. A woman who's been under her husband for fourteen years and all the tricks she pulled, him being so submissive. I didn't know I was reading an astrology cookbook. Why would the author put recipes in there? And why did the astrology reading last so many pages? I'm a Scorpio and I didn't even want to read it. I think the author put too many of her interests in it instead of telling the story. If the story was just Horace, Paula, Amber, Grandpa, and Grandma, I would've given this story five stars. But I didn't enjoy the rest of that stuff. It was too far-fetched.
You Go Girl!!!, March 9, 2005
By Arvette Farley (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
I really enjoyed "Departures"- This book was too funny. I could relate to so many of the charaters. Some of the scenes made me think that the Adrienne Bellamy was following me around (Ha Ha)... The astrology piece in this book was so on point!!!
Girl you missed your calling (Scary) I can't wait to get into the sequel...
I was so into this book, that I was caught reading it at my desk at work- During work hours. It was so hard to put it down!!!
And I will say it again 'YOU GO GIRL'
Good read, December 19, 2004
By DEArrington "ireadalot" (cleveland, oh) - See all my reviews
I first heard about this book from the author herself. I didn't have a clue what it was about or if I was going to like it but I figured it was worth a shot.What a shot this book turned out to be.
One reviewer said that there were too many characters and that she was drawn to only certain ones. I think that is the best part of the book. It read like a t.v. soap opera. I loved just about all of the women in the book and some of the men. I think I enjoyed Doug the most.
I will say though, being a pisces woman and knowing many piscean women, I was a little offended of Ms. Bellamy's opinion of us. On the contrary to her book we are very kind, caring, loving, and feeling people. Probably the most sensitive in the zodiac.
But beyond that I really enjoyed this book and can not wait to read the sequel.