Milwaukee’s Dasha Kelly – among many other things, a poet and former Pfister Hotel narrator – returns to the page with her novel Almost Crimson (Curbside Splendor). A mother’s depression and father’s absence leave protagonist CeCe alone to navigate a world filled with school bullies, sexual abuse, racial prejudice and embarrassing wrong-side-of-town remarks. Good thing that CeCe meets many kind folks along the way. Although Kelly infuses such characters with warmth, this coming-of-age tale would have benefited from fewer, more developed ones. I also wished more storylines spanned several chapters rather than vanishing almost as swiftly as they begin. Still, there’s lots of promise here. I hope her next novel proves half as engaging as this one.