Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Darkest Child

A while back, I joined the From the Stacks Reading Challenge since the pile of books I haven't read in my house is starting to outgrow the pile of books that I have read. It seems that we are supposed to try to post reviews of the books after we read them, so here goes...

I've never written a book review before, so don't expect this to be any good!

I started the challenge with The Darkest Child, by Delores Phillips. This was a book that I just picked up at the NEMBF, which is may favorite book store in the area. Yes, I judged it by it's cover, as I always do. Don't pretend like you don't. It's been sitting on my bedside table for months, when it really should have been devoured long ago.

The book is a naked look at a struggling black family in a small Georgia town in the 1960's. Narrated by one of the daughters of the family, Tangy Mae, the book continues to horrify and keep you frantically hopeful consistently throughout the book. The hope keeps you reading, obsessively reading...even at stop lights. You have to know if she will she will escape.

I can't stand reading book reviews that tell all, so you're not going to get many more details out of me. I will say that it's ironic that one of the praises on the back of the book attributes the book with "clearly identifiable villains and victims" which I almost completely disagree with and the disagreement is part of why I liked this book so much. I felt that Phillips very skillfully shows the dichotomy that exists within all the main characters, the capacity to be both villainous and victimized at the same time, the capacity in all of us to be both good and evil. There are a few exceptions, the "law" of the town being a clear villain, Martha Jean, the deaf sister being a clear victim, but otherwise the two states oscillate back and forth.

If I was quoted on the back of the book, my praise would by more likely to read, "Constructs a nebulous line between victim and villain which causes a flurry of thoughts and emotions about the connection between both states." And it would be definite praise because that reflection of reality seems to be difficult to capture, even for accomplished writers. Read it. You won't be sorry.


Blogger Chris said...

Damn fine review!!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Sounds like a great book! I'm going to send the link to hubby as a hint for Christmas :)

12:52 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

I am so putting this on my Christmas wish list. Thanks!

4:33 PM  

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