Just One Look - Book Review

Just One Look

Author: Joanne Kukanza Easley
Narrated by: Gail Rossi
Genre: Fiction - Womens
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: June 24, 2021
ISBN-10: 1684337267
ISBN-13: 978-1684337262

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Book Review of :  Just One Look


Just One Look by Joanne Kukanza Easley reads like a personal memoir or diary but is an engaging women’s contemporary fiction. Dani Marek’s coming of age in the sixties will ignite memories from older readers and enable younger readers to relate to the not so “ancient” history of psychedelic posters, love beads, and peace signs. As a young teen, Dani is not enticed by the free love scene because she is madly in love with her high school sweetheart, John, and makes elaborate plans for marriage. Told in first person by Dani, the lightning-paced novel chronicles her emotional and physical growth. She also reveals her personal concerns about her “hippy” sister and her dysfunctional family.

With a background of popular music ranging from “golden oldies” through rock and roll and onto disco, the plot is defined by references to song lyrics representative of the age. The music references drive the narrative and increase the drama.

The author’s empathetic development of Dani’s character as she responds to the threat of war in Vietnam and the death of John will provide additional historical background for young readers. Easley continues with Dani’s story as Dani, and other ordinary women continue with their own lives on their own terms as the seventies ushered in declining morals. The author skillfully develops her characters and their reactions over time as she sews threads of connections from historical event to event. Her inclusion of historical facts and geographical locations enhances her practice of intertwining story plots and writing techniques.

Following John’s tragic death, Dani struggles through typical grief and denial. She becomes withdrawn but refuses counseling, except from her younger sister. Her recovery includes a period of misuse of her feminine powers and social bar hopping.

Dani is threatened and enticed by the relaxed morals of the seventies and by the ghosts in her past. Like many, she makes poor choices based on misunderstood circumstances and suffers the consequences.  For example, she enters into a loveless marriage of convenience. Her rebound marriage based on money and gratitude results in an unplanned pregnancy that the father ignores. She is a trophy wife with social responsibilities. Soon she is a widow, a single mother, with another ghost in her turbulent past.

 Easley, a PenCraft Book award-winner and a 2021 Eric Hoffer short-listed author, has created an entertaining and enlightening novel that will empower women. Readers who lived the historical situations will relate to the plot and the characters’ responses as they analyze their own decisions based on social circumstances. Younger readers may wonder if their mothers experienced some of the situations that are referred to. With a satisfying sense of closure, the conclusion anticipates a sequel. 

Reviewed by: Carole w

About Joanne Kukanza Easley

Joanne Kukanza Easley, born in Chicago, Illinois, has adopted Texas as her home. She lives in the Texas Hill Country on a small ranch with her husband, three rescue terriers, and abundant wildlife. Retired from a career in nursing--with dual specialties in the cold, clinical operating room, and the intense, emotional world of psychiatric nursing, she devotes her time to writing fiction. She is hard at work editing her next novel, JUST ONE LOOK, set in her native Chicago, and looking forward to her next project, LAUREN EATON.

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