Cover image for Changing faces
Changing faces
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, c2006.
Physical Description:
viii, 278 p. ; 24 cm.


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Meet Whitney, Taylor, and Charisse, three women who have been best friends since high school. However, this devoted troika is about to discover a wave of unexpected troubles.

Whitney is a plus-size woman who just can't turn down a box of Krispy Kremes or find a man who will stay put.

Taylor is in a long-term relationship with a boyfriend who's allergic to commitment.

Charisse is married, with two adorable children, but somehow doesn't have what she really wants--or needs.

Then suddenly Charisse spins out of control. Her doormat husband manages to stand up to her and even threatens to go public with a very shady secret Charisse had hoped to keep hidden, especially from her interfering mother. Desperate, she decides that only a very risky scheme will save her.

One constant for these women has been the support they've offered one another. But this time, how far can friendship go?

In this witty, rollicking, deeply poignant story, Kimberla Lawson Roby demonstrates the storytelling magic that has won her legions of adoring fans and made her novels bestsellers.

Author Notes

Kimberla Lawson Roby has published about 15 novels. Her debut title, Behind Closed Doors, was originally self-published through her company, Lenox Press. Her other works include The Best of Everything, One in a Million, Sin No More, Love and Lies, Changing Faces, The Best-Kept Secret, A Taste of Reality, It's a Thin Line, and A Deep, Dark Secret. She received the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for Casting the First Stone and the 2004 Patron Choice Award from the Central Mississippi Regional Library System for Too Much of a Good Thing. She is also the 2006 and 2007 recipient of the Author of the Year, Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York. In 2013 she made The New York Times Best Seller List with her title A House Divided. The Prodigal Son made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2014. She also made the list in 2015 with her title, The Ultimate Betrayal.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Roby's thin portrayal (after The Best-Kept Secret) of three steadfast best friends in Chicago shows how they cope with waves of individual and interpersonal troubles. Whitney is an intelligent, overweight singleton who consoles herself at Krispy Kreme and McDonald's. Her dearest friend, Taylor, a successful lawyer, has savvy in the courtroom but no real commitment from her longtime boyfriend, Cameron. The most troubled of the trio is Charisse, a controlling, Bible-thumping man-hater with two young children and a browbeaten husband who has begun to show signs of a backbone. Whitney resolves to face her weight problem head-on, meets an adoring Rico at the gym and finds that she just may be able to recharge both her self-confidence and her sex life. Taylor continues to put up with Cameron's insensitivity and inattentiveness, until a serious medical problem makes her re-evaluate her priorities. Meanwhile, Charisse conceals shady secrets and strives for the upper hand in her marriage. Finally, her bid for reconciliation with her own cartoonishly abusive mother results in a climax as incredible as it is tragic. Despite the book's potential for an honest look at friendship among modern African-American women, Roby's story takes a turn for the mediocre as this novel slides into near-farce. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Three women--Whitney, Taylor, and Charisse--have been friends for years. They have learned to overlook each other's shortcomings to maintain their friendship. Whitney is a plus-size woman who has tried every fad diet only to have short-lived success. With her high-school reunion approaching, she is determined to shed those unwanted pounds. She loses some weight and finds a man who enjoys her company anyway. Taylor is a very successful lawyer who has been dating a man for two years. She is in love and ready to settle down, yet he will not make a commitment. She is compelled to choose between pride and romance. Charisse is the mother of two children and a devout Christian. In the name of God, she is judgmental and intolerant. She treats her daughter with contempt and henpecks her husband, yet she is victim to her mother's harsh words and cruel behavior. Each woman has to overcome her weakness, and their friendship is tested when Charisse confronts her demons. Roby succeeds in writing another engrossing tale. --Lillian Lewis Copyright 2005 Booklist

Kirkus Review

Three longtime best friends find their relationship strained when one of them goes off the deep end. Chicagoans Whitney, Taylor and Charisse have been a close-knit trio since college. Big, beautiful Whitney has a good job in telecommunications, along with a serious food addiction. Single and eager to lose weight in time for her 20th high-school reunion, she meets sexy Rico at her gym. Rico is willing to help her get fit, but is this new workout partner too good to be true? Elegant lawyer Taylor avoids dealing with a debilitating medical condition, risking both her health and her relationship with commitment-phobic architect boyfriend Cameron. And pious Charisse is a control-freak nurse and mother of two with serious mental problems she has managed to keep under wraps. Charrise is also a cruel hypocrite, keeping several ugly secrets. Why Taylor and Whitney tolerate her at all is never adequately explained. Her orderly façade cracks for good when her long-suffering husband Marvin decides to finally stand up for himself (he begins skipping church and moves into the guest bedroom). This loss of control enrages Charisse and she begins to fantasize about how she will "take care of" all the people who have wronged her. Her vengeance extends to Whitney, who uses her new-found confidence to finally confront Charisse about her bullying ways. This encounter, among others, builds to a vicious, though not particularly surprising, act of violence. Sin and secrets in a lurid, uneven melodrama. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

Roby (Behind Closed Doors) dives into the lives of a trio of thirtysomething, educated, and successful African American friends who each has her own relationship challenges. Whitney, a customer services manager at a cell phone company, has self-image issues as a result of her weight and an often unsympathetic mother and sister. Successful attorney Taylor's boyfriend seems perfect in every respect-except for his apathy toward commitment and marriage. Surgical nurse Charisse has an emotionally unavailable and abusive mother, which has led to her continued attempts to control and abuse her own husband and two children. Instead of focusing on the life of philandering preacher Curtis Black, as in Casting the First Stone, Too Much of a Good Thing, and The Best Kept Secret, Roby offers readers a refreshingly new page-turner filled with comedy, love, mental illness, and loads of drama. One hopes that in future novels, she will explore each character individually. Highly recommended for all public libraries and particularly for libraries with contemporary African American collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/05.]-Lisa Jones, Tuscaloosa P.L., AL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Changing Faces Chapter One Whitney My name is Whitney, and while it shames me to say it, I'm a compulsive overeater. I don't want to be, but that's just what I've been since I was a child and I can't seem to change it. Of course, I've tried changing my eating habits a great number of times, specifically over the last fifteen years, but none of my yo-yo dieting has ever worked -- at least not for long. And believe me when I say that I've tried the very best of them, one right after another. Jenny Craig, Ornish, The Zone, Fit for Life, Slim-Fast, Herbalife, Atkins, and every other low-carb, no-carb, low-calorie weight-reduction fad on the planet. I've even gone as far as starving myself completely, which was actually working until that night I passed out in the middle of aerobics class. Good God, I must have been entirely out of my mind. But insanity is not uncommon for women like me who are at least one hundred pounds heavier than they should be -- women like me who spend every waking moment planning their next delicious meal and then promising themselves that they really will restart their diet this coming Monday. Sure, there are many overweight women who love themselves just the way they are and who walk around proudly with their heads held high, but most of us are not happy with the way we look. More importantly, we are not happy with the way we feel or the way some of us tend to be treated. Like the other day, when I was sitting at the mall in the food court section wolfing down a colossal meal from Taco Bell, and the couple sitting a few feet away looked over at me in disgust. They never said a word, but I knew immediately what they were thinking. They were wondering why I had the nerve to be eating anything at all, let alone two large burritos, a salad, and a large drink. I could read their minds as clear as day, and while I wanted to beg for their understanding, I never looked in their direction again. Instead, I pretended that they didn't even exist. But actually, this was a huge part of my problem. I've always searched for acceptance from others and I have my "wonderfully loving" mother to thank for it. From the time I was eight, she was already criticizing the way I looked, the way I walked, the way I did anything. Nothing was ever good enough. She demanded perfection, but I never gave it to her. Tina, my younger sister, on the other hand, did whatever it took to make Mother happy, and Mother has always loved her more because of it. Mother had even slipped and told me so a few years back during an argument we were having, but now she denies ever saying it. Still, I know what I heard and it is the reason our relationship has been terribly strained ever since. I drove my SUV onto I-94 West and immediately came to a complete stop. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper the same as always, and I couldn't help wondering why I did this every day. Obviously, I needed to work for a living, but why I drove all the way to downtown Chicago from Covington Park, the south suburb where I lived, didn't make much sense. Not when I could have easily taken the Metra train round-trip. But to be frank, I just didn't feel comfortable doing it. The Metra was nice enough, but for some reason I'd always had this weird phobia about traveling on anything relating to the rail system. Of course, no one understood it, but it was just who I was. I continued on my journey and realized I was barely a few miles from the exit that would take me to my favorite Krispy Kreme location. Each day I fought tooth and nail trying hard not to go there, and sometimes I actually didn't. Sometimes I drove past the exit and even felt good about it, but it was always a major struggle. I slowed my acceleration and waited for the flow of traffic to start up again. When I did, my phone rang. I rolled my eyes toward the ceiling when I saw that it was my sister. "Hello?" I said. "Where are you?" "In traffic, on my way to work. What's up with you?" "Why on earth do you keep doing that?" she said, ignoring my question. "Doing what, Tina?" "Driving all the way downtown." "I do it because this is a free country and because I want to." "Whatever." "Whatever is right. Now, did you want something in particular or were you just calling to harass me?" "I'm calling for two reasons. Well, actually, three. First, I wanted to tell you that I got promoted yesterday to purchasing manager." "Well, good for you. I know you've been wanting that to happen." "I have, and it's going to pay me fifteen thousand more dollars a year. Then, on top of that, Riley Jackson asked me out. You know, that fine-as-wine anchorman on Channel Eight." "That's nice." " Nice? It's fabulous. He's a huge local celebrity and that means I'll be going to the best parties that Chicago has to offer." I couldn't believe how shallow Tina was. She was so, so my mother and every bit as appalling. "What's the third thing you wanted to tell me?" I hurried to say because I didn't want to hear any more of my sister's bragging. "That I'm planning a surprise birthday party for Mother." "Oh really? When?" "Duh. On her birthday." "I know, Tina. But on her birthday, near her birthday, when?" "Her birthday falls on a Saturday this year, so that's when I'd like to do it." "Actually, my twenty-year high school reunion is in November, but I didn't pay much attention to the date. I'll have to make sure it's not the same day." Changing Faces . Copyright © by Kimberla Roby. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Changing Faces by Kimberla Lawson Roby All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.