Luna is the beautiful daughter of a successful black doctor and a white mother who have given her everything she could possibly want—except an identity.
Luna's grandmother lives in Harlem and is intent on giving Luna "The Black Experience" through the church, but the harder she tries to draw Luna in, the further Luna retreats.
Against Grandma's advice, Luna falls in love with Dex, an upper class white boy she meets at private school. Dex accepts and adores the ethnicity Luna loathes and fears in herself. But just as Dex's mature sensitivity begins to draw out the black woman in Luna, he is tragically killed in a subway mugging. His killers are black, and having witnessed the murder without being able to stop it, Luna feels responsible. Her feelings of self hatred increase as she is blamed for Dex's death by his mother. Luna gets stuck in an emotional impasse, unable to accept who she is. She would love to remain there—in denial, and for years she does, but Dex has left a part of himself behind—Dex Jr. and Luna realizes that in order to raise a well adjusted bi-racial child, she must undertake a journey to integrate and love both parts of herself.
She meets two "men" along the way: Neil, an Irish cop with baggage of a racist past and D. J.'s friend Snappy, a ten year old black poet living in poverty. Despite their obvious differences, Luna and Neil fall in love and find themselves discovering Snappy's brilliance and Neil's unlikely sensitivity. Luna begins to love and appreciate the aspects of herself that Neil and Snappy represent.
But there are problems: Neil's behavior becomes hostile and violent when outsiders object to their relationship, and this forces him to admit something about his past that could destroy his relationship with Luna. Also, as Snappy becomes closer to Luna, Neil, and D.J., he begins to reject his own mother, causing great animosity manifesting in child abuse.
As the four begin to grow as a family, they face serious opposition from all factions of society. They find that even though they genuinely love each other, the society they're forced to function in has rules that keep that love from growing.
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