Young RubyMae Garrett leaves Mississippi for Paris, following love and the lure of adventure. Postwar Paris is a place where dreams are made and where a colored woman can walk freely in the streets. For a girl who wants to be a singer, the thriving black expatriate jazz scene is the place to be.
Sixty years later, Nicole-Marie Handy, tired of a life turned ordinary, takes a spontaneous trip to Paris, a place she’s always wanted to visit after finding a battered blue French dictionary in her parents’ cedar chest decades ago. Paris is more than the city of love for Nicole, though. When she finds an old photo of her father in a Parisian antique shop, inscribed on the back to a woman Nicole has never heard of, Paris becomes a city of hidden family secrets.
Passing Love is a book of secrets and deftly handled reveals, and so it is hard to summarize without giving anything away. Moving between the 1950s and today, Luckett sets up surprises for the reader that I am loath to spoil. RubyMae is a hard character who makes some questionable decisions, yet Luckett handles it well. She sells the character convincingly so that, even when I didn’t agree, I was still swept up in RubyMae’s story.