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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Before reviewing this powerful novel, let me caution potential readers that this book contains very explicit sex and violence, extremely foul language, and explores the gamier side of the club and dating life. If such things offend you, consider another novel.
The book's theme is that we are torn between wanting true love (to be loved for ourselves) and our desire to enjoy the maximum pleasure from the opposite sex. This theme is reinforced by childhood experiences, observing family and friends, and following our own emotions in social settings. The book goes on to raise the important question of how we move beyond that to get the mature love that we truly want.
A major subtheme looks in a similar way at the nature of friendship. Is a friend someone who makes you feel like you're in charge, or someone you care about and who cares about you?
The book develops primarily from the perspectives of Stephan Mitchell, a man who loves to keep a large number of women on the string, and Chante Ellis, who is in love with falling in love . . . and keeps finding herself with exploitive bums. Each of them comes to question their primary way of dating and relating to the opposite sex, their friends, and finding lasting companionship.
The book also chronicles the experiences of their married and unmarried friends who struggle with variations on the same issues. It's like a jazz piece that contains many versions of the main melody reconstructed throughout on different instruments.
The book's main appeal is that it holds out hope that we can improve ourselves, change our behavior, and acquire the love we want. In essence, we get the love we deserve except from our family. I found it very moving that Mr. Dickey chose some pretty pathetic hedonists as his characters. In the beginning, these are the anti-heroes, but they mature and move towards being loving adults.
Now, all of this could come across in a very heavy, moralistic way. But Mr. Dickey has a light touch, and colors his points with careful exaggeration and humor to make the lessons easier to swallow. Stephen Mitchell's last visit to Toyomi's home in Palm Springs and Chante's last date with Michael are both excellent examples of this.
The character development in the novel is outstanding. You will feel like you know each character quite well, probably better than their lovers and potential lovers do.
Mr. Dickey has an astonishing ear for dialogue. You can feel yourself in almost every scene because the dialogue is so realistic.
Having lived in San Bernardino while I was growing up, I especially enjoyed the many descriptions of the towns and freeways around the Inland Empire. I think I even picked up on a few better routes for avoiding traffic.
Since the characters are African Americans, some potential readers may want to arbitrarily assign this novel to some sub-genre concerning African American culture. That would be a mistake. It would be like thinking of Romeo and Juliet as a soap opera. Regardless of your connection to or interest in contemporary African American culture, you will identify with and enjoy reading about these characters.
After you have enjoyed this superb novel, you should use it as a mirror to think about the ways that you show and provide love and friendship in your life. How could you improve? How could you connect these changes to your spiritual beliefs?
Give the love and friendship that you would like to have.
Donald Mitchell...
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on 18 July 1999
I just finished Cheaters and I must say once again Eric Jerome Dickey has done it! The characters are so real and true. You know someone like them somewhere.Jake was long overdue for his lessons and that Dawn. Girlfriend was a piece of work.Toyomi needs a doctor BIG TIME and a life.Guess she heard me.Chante' and Stephan make a wonderful couple and I hope we see them again soon in another book.Charolette, my girl needs someone who's real and true. She wasn't as blind as we thought. The book kept me on the edge, when I wasn't laughing or tesifying. I had the opportuinty to meet Mr.Dickey at his booksigning recently here in Houston when my book club attended and it was a sheer pleasure to have him autograph not only Cheaters but,also milk in my coffee and friends and lovers. He's a wonderfully,warm,funny,plesant man, with a gift for giving us both the male/female point of view I can't wait to see the movies based on his books and I'm looking forward to his next two novels already. If you haven't read the book yet,what are you waiting for? I along with all the members of my book club have been eagerly anticipating our book discussion, since it's release. Continued blessings and success to Eric Jerome Dickey and thanks for sharing your talent with us.
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on 9 August 2000
To everyone out there who has not yet bought or picked up a book by this brother, please start doing so! I can guarantee you will not be dissapointed, trust me. Each one of his books has had me hooked from start to finish. It's nice to read tales about Black people which do not have you thinking "Oh no, not this same old cliche again!" His books are vibrant, very refreshing and you are always guaranteed a good laugh or compassion for the characters. If you buy any of his books, it won't be a waste of money.
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on 20 July 1999
If this book was not meant to be taken too seriously then the author has done quite well. Otherwise I found the main characters shallow and boring. I also felt that the sexual encounters described in practically every chapter obscured a poor story line and plot. In short, this book is for people who like soap operas or a quick light read at the beach.
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on 23 July 1999
Disappointed would hardly describe my reaction to EJD's latest work. Although he is a dynamic writer whose wit and style rank with the best the literary world of fiction has to offer, his decision to write stereotypical, denigrating stories pertaining to African-American women is devastating. Instead of utilizing his writing skills to promote and accentuate the positive in his ethnic sisters, he choses to debase and defile our images to the reading public. The black women in Cheaters were more than just cheaters...they were immoral low-lifes who knew nothing about self-respect, honesty, or positive self-images. While people of all races and ethnic backgrounds do cheat, why perpetuate the negative images that society has of African-American relationships? Especially the low-budget hot-mama cum-all-over-yourself picture he paints of his Nubian sistahs. There are many black women out there who love and support his work. Why doesn't he edify them with his words? Sistahs, while you nearly choke yourselves laughing at his every put-down, when will you wake up and realize that the joke is on YOU???
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on 11 January 2013
First read this book 10 years ago and I always re-read, recommend it, lend it, lose it and replace it because it's just fantastic.

No character's voice is lesser than the other's and each character's experiences while unique, also feel universal. Dickey did a great job with this story, it topped Milk in My Coffee and Sister, Sister for me which is saying alot.
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on 15 August 1999
As a young professional single woman, I find Eric Jerome Dickeys writing style of the "90's" to be very fresh, provacative and totally realistic. His style of writing such as in "Cheaters", gets you very involved with the characters from the get go, which makes this book very difficult to put down! You can't wait to find out what is going to go down in the next scenario between Chante and Stephan, or any of the other characters for that fact. I appreciate EJD and his ability to write about such personal and sexual feelings. Coming from a man, this is rare, but he has mastered the art of combining pleasure, entertainment and lust into a meaningful story that we can all relate to. I really enjoy how he individualizes each character within their own chapters, as if they themselves have written it. This gives you great insight on what each character is thinking and how they see and feel about the situation at hand. It is as powerful as Milk In My Coffee, his last hit novel, which amazingly lent a positive and realistic imagery towards interracial realtionships. As a person involved in interracial dating, this really hit home for me and made me look at mistakes I have made in my own dealings. EJD is a great author because he writes REAL stories about REAL characters that everyone can relate to. Keep up the great work ERIC,...cos we all love ya out here and think you are da bomb! I will buy any book you write because I already know it will be great!
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on 19 July 1999
"Cheaters" is not Dickey's best novel. While I enjoyed reading some of the male viewpoints expressed in monologues and dialogues throughout this novel, I had an extremely difficult time relating to the "sistas." I hope Dickey didn't expect readers to root for Chante, Tammy, or Karen. The mentality of these characters came across as immature and sometimes ghetto; perhaps the point of the book was to show how they started off one way and ended up better off somehow (I thought) but the problem is that these three characters had no depth to begin with so I started and ended this book with no respect (and little concern) for them. Because of the immaturity of these women, it was difficult to buy into Tammy's refined black woman/Nina Simmone/Josephine Baker persona, and I couldn't believe that Chante was raised by traveling, well-rounded parents due to her ghetto girl mentality. I couldn't find myself or any of the positive black women I know and respect in any of these characters. For once I'd like to read about female characters who aren't so obsessed with a man's "buck-fifty" that they don't notice much else (like who else he might be sharing it with). People who cheat don't neccessarily have to be so dysfunctional and immature.
I got through half the book and slowly my interest in these people waned; I didn't care what happened to most of these characters. They resembled stereotypes within a plot that was so cliche.
The plot was too predictable. I was looking for a fresh approach to the age-old topic of cheating (show me a storyline I haven't seen on a zillion TV shows and movies). This story has been told and retold time and time again: A promiscuous person haunted by his/her sins, the "oppressed" spouse who meets a "free spirited" woman/man and finds it a little too easy to stray from his/her commitment (the grass is greener on the other side -- sure), and there are a few other predictable subplots and endings which I won't give away (trust me, they'll give themselves away within the first quarter of the book)
Needless to say, I was disappointed because there was no good feeling to hold onto in the end; no happiness for the characters (whether they ended up happy or not); just another story about cheating to add to the pile. I still love Mr. Dickey and I will continue to read his books (cause I know there will be better ones). I love his accurate descriptions of the Los Angeles area (my home), its laidback settings, and characters. "Friends and Lovers" was his best, and I hope he'll take us back to those well-plotted stories with characters (good and bad) that are mature, complicated, and not so predictable.
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on 9 July 1999
I HAVE READ MILK IN MY COFFEE SISTER SISTER AND FRIENDS AND LOVERS AND THEY WERE ALL GOOD BUT I HAVE TO SAY THAT CHEATERS IS ABSOLUTELY THE BEST WHEN I FIRST HEARD THE TITLE OF THE BOOK I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE A TRASHY NOVEL ABOUT A WHOLE BUNCH OF NONSENSE BUT I LEARNED ALOT FROM THIS BOOK THE REASON WHY I LIKED THIS BOOK SO MUCH IS BECAUSE CERTAIN THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN THIS STORY THAT REALLY SHOCKED ME AND I COULD NOT SLEEP AT NIGHT THINKIN ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS AND HOW YOU CAN BE IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE AND WAKE UP ONE DAY AND ITS ALL OVER YOU JUS NEVER KNOW IN THIS DAY AND TIME AND THE WAY MEN CAN BE SO NONCHALANT AND DISRESPECTFUL AND THEN TURN AROUND ONCE THEIR CAUGHT AND BE SO CARING AND EXPECT THE WOMEN TO JUS FORGET AND FORGIVE I THINK ONE IMPORTANT PART IN THE BOOK PROVES THAT MEN TRY SO HARD TO BE SNEAKY AND UNDERHANDED BUT IN THE END ITS GOING TO ALL COME OUT AND THEY WILL BE THE ONES TO LOOSE OUT I LIKED THE FACT THAT THE STORY HAD SIX DIFFERENT CHARACTERS THAT THIS BOOK FOCUSED ON TO SHOW US DIFFERENT ANGLES IN RELATIONSHIPS MARRIAGES BESTFRIENDS FIANCES BOYFRIEND GIRLFRIEND I JUS RELATED TO THIS IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS LIKE WITH TAMMY AND HER SINGING CAREER CHANTE AND KAREN WITH THEIR MANY ARGUMENTS THIS BOOK WAS VERY REALISTIC I SEE THESE TYPE OF THINGS HAPPENING EVERYDAY EVEN THE LITTLE TIP YOU PUT IN THEIR ABOUT THE DEVICE FROM RADIO SHACK WHO KNOWS I MIGHT NEED THAT ONE DAY THANKS! BUT IN CLOSING I JUS WANNA SAY I LIKE A BOOK THAT KEEPS ME ON MY TOES I CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE BETWEEN YOU AND LOLITA I DONT KNOW WHO TOO CHOOSE FROM KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK
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on 23 June 1999
Grab the book, light some black love incense, put on some Rachell Farrell, pull up the covers and sip some Snapple 'cause the grandson of (the now infamous) Virginia Jerry is on a roll. This won't be a book you'll be putting down once it gets good.
Although the momentum builds more slowly than in Friends and Lovers or Milk in my Coffee, Cheaters has the same Dickey flow and even more wit (man, Eric, do you ever run outta those sharp metaphors??). Eric Dickey is hitting his stride and has created a book that won't answer why people cheat, but will hip you to the human condition from which we all suffer. Going into the book, I assumed I would despise the cheaters and side with the righteous. Not so. He has a way of taking the gray areas that are a part of true life and weaving them into his FICTION in a way that makes everything real. You can feel a deeper level of thinking in this book than what he has written in the past. He definitely put some serious thought into this one.
The characters are very genuine, and if you're a Dickey fan, you'll get a kick out of seeing some past characters from F&L and Sister, Sister. As far as the main characters go -- if you've been on the planet for more than a couple of decades -- you will be able to recognize them as folks you know. And if you've ever cheated, been cheated on, been the other woman/man, or if you've ever almost done any of the above, you'll come out of this book with a deeper understanding of what it means to have a heart that loves too strongly or a will that is just not strong enough.
Cry count: once. Laugh-out-loud count: four times. Both at the same time: once. Bravo, Eric. Very well done.
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