Member Reviews

I would like to thank NetGalley and Henry Holt & Co for the opportunity to read Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? in exchange for my honest review.

In this book, we are introduced to a world of black women passing as white in 1950/60s Hollywood. We meet our title character as a child and follow her into adulthood. Born light-skinned, she easily passes as white around strangers which allows her access to a world typically cut off from her mother and herself. Weekends are spent shopping in stores her mother can only enter because they pass as nanny and charge.

After a move across the country and a change of name, Kitty accepts a respected position at a film studio and before long is one of the most popular actresses of her time. As a white woman, doors open to her. Opportunity is all around her. The few that know and share the same secret become her refuge.

Imagine living both lives - that of a black girl and then a white woman. Imagine knowing, experiencing, racism from both spectrums. Imagine having all you could ever want in life and knowing it would be taken away, your entire life erased, if the secret of your identity was revealed.

Told in dual timelines through Kitty’s neighbor Elise’s eyes in 2017 and Kitty’s in the 50s/60s, this book is a treasure. Despite knowing the history, as a reader I felt like I was living it. Author Crystal Smith Paul excels as making the reader feel every word of this fascinating story. This is one of those books I wish I could read for the first time all over again.

My only complaint is that the ending felt abrupt. I wasn’t ready and turned the page expecting more. I felt the characters deserved a more fleshed out conclusion.

Outstanding book. Preorder it immediately!

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What an incredible book! Kitty Karr was an iconic Classic Hollywood actress who has recently died and left her estate to the three St. John sisters, all stars in their own right, What is the connection between them?

This absorbing multigenerational tale addresses so many important issues, from "passing" and the privileges that come with it, the way that family members' past choices and secrets can still affect future generations years later. The novel was beautifully written, and I was immediately invested in these characters and their stories. I'm so excited to see what Crystal Smith Paul writes next! Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for the ARC.

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Thank you Net Galley for the ARC. What an amazing story - it really pulled me in. As I read along I can totally see this being made into a movie. The author did such a great job of developing the characters in such a deep way.

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A nuanced and elegant portrayal of one woman's journey through life and the heartfelt question of her legacy.

The author treats the issue of "passing" with an assured hand. The narrative' focuses on Kitty's time in the segregated South and in the film industry. Along the way, we wonder why she left her legacy to Elise St. John. We keep turning the pages trying to grasp the connection.

My one slight criticism is that it does the novel a disservice to call it a thriller; the pacing is not quite what readers of thrillers have come to expect.

This novel is highly recommended for book clubs who will find much to discuss. Readers who enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo are sure to love this one.

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A wonderful book! Kitty Karr was an old Hollywood icon whose death opens the door to family secrets and the connection between her and the three black women left to inherit her estate. The pace was a little slow, but the story was engaging and the characters were well developed. A great read!

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I am a HUGE fan of any and everything old Hollywood. So when I saw this read was classified in that time period but also marked as a thriller, I knew I was going to love it from the beginning and that I did! I kept reading the name as Kitty Carlisle from the old show To Tell the Truth, so I hope that’s where her name was derived from. This has the old Hollywood glamour of Evelyn Hugo with the thriller aspect of your favorite thriller writers. Definitely one of my favorites to finish out the year reading. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC

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A glamorous read accentuating important topics such as racism and the strive to overcome obstacles life throws at the main character. Loved every page!

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I didn't expect to love this as much as I did. Crystal Smith Paul's character development and journey reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Taylor Jenkins Reid. Thank you netgalley & the publisher for the ARC, in exchange for an honest review. I can't wait for others to read this in May 2023.

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Sometimes I feel very lucky as a reader/reviewer, and this is certainly one of those moments. This is an extraordinary, well-written book about”passing.” I have enjoyed other novels about this subject, but this is so nuanced and sophisticated that it surpassed my expectations.

We all hear about Kitty Karr after her passing, through her extraordinary legacy. The focus of her story is her experience as a child in the segregated South and as a woman in the film industry. She has left her story and possessions to Elise St John, a young movie star who loved her. What was their connection?

As a reader, I was extremely engaged in their stories and trying to understand their connection. I couldn’t put this book down. Being old enough to remember the events embedded in this novel made it very meaningful. I understood the supreme conundrum of Kitty’s life and empathized with the path she chose.

I highly recommend this novel to reading groups. I believe that in addition to its’ readability, it will provide endless fodder for meaningful discussions. This is a true winner. I think it will jump to a place on the Best Books Lists.

Thank you Netgalley for this enjoyable and thought provoking novel.

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Did You Hear About Kitty Karr tackles many issues of race including the rape of black women by their white “owners”, and the passing of black women as white to have a better life, while all the time staying fearful they would be discovered. In the book Kitty as a white woman builds an amazing career as a writer, and actor, while living a lie from her husband and she’s part of a secret like minded group of women who fundraise and donate money to black causes.
The book starts in present day with the St. John family, all famous in their own right, dealing with the recent death of next door neighbor, close family friend Kitty Karr and the fact she’s left her entire fortune to the three St. John daughters, then travels back in time to the south in the fifties and the beginning of the Kitty Karr story.
The writing style of the author is wonderful and she brings to light a story that should have been told long ago and she does it brilliantly. Multi nuanced, with wonderful characters this is a book not to be missed.

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Many thanks to Henry Holt and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Crystal Smith Paul's Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?

Anyone out there saying sagas won't sell or sagas are a thing of the past hasn't read Ms. Paul's book. It's one of the best books I've read this year, and I'm already impatient for her next book.

A brilliant cast of characters, a story that kept me enthralled. A writing voice that is enjoyable and engrossing. A timely, important novel.

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A beautifully written story spanning several generations. The author weaves about engrossing story. I am thankful to Net galley, the publishers and the author for giving me the opportunity to read this excellent ARC.

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this does a great job in telling a multi-generational story, it was what I wanted it to from the description. I really enjoyed getting to know the entire cast and thought the time-periods worked so well with the cast. Crystal Smith Paul has a great writing style and knows how to tell a story. I look forward to reading more from this author and was glad I read this.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Her hand went to her chest. “Lucy Schmitt.” She tugged on her earlobe, engulfed by a diamond earring. The pair matched the crispness of her white collared button-up shirt and were the center of attention with her ear-length blond hair tucked back. She wore no makeup, not even lipstick, and had the smoothest skin."

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