Reading 2011

My soul breathes in and the air is filled with words.

I love books, love reading, and even as I marvel at the technology of my daughter's Kobo and husband's iPad (and iBooks), there is still something so magical about touching a book, turning the pages, and underlining passages that stand out to me.

2011 found me continuing my journey through black female literature.

I began this quest a few years ago, determined to read and find words more than the publisher's stereotypical hood rat or ghetto queen or urban erotic mess that clogs up the store shelves.

Fiction and non-fiction filled my time between the pages. The ones most noted will remain on my bookshelf. They are:

1. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. This is by far the most memorable book I read this year and one that I want to give to my sons. This phenomenal work brought the people of the Great Migration to life and allowed me to even find my father's Arkansas to Michigan store enshrined in the ink. I understood.

2. The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips was disturbing. I am a mother, I am a daughter, I can not forgive this excuse of a woman for her depravity. Perhaps it was the sickness of the times, as this took place at the rising Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps it was the mother's own sickness born from untreated trauma of the 30s and 40s. I loved the protagonist and applauded her courageous fight for self-determination and ownership.

3. The Air Between Us by Deborah Johnson was another Civil Rights era book set in the south that carried forward themes of acceptance, place, class, race, and love. I found myself rooting for the raceless, colorless protagonist and quietly kept her secret as she walked into the future with someone who loved her. I also could understand the slow-boil anger of the black doctor and the misguided impressions of the white doctor. Very good read.

3. Shifting Through Neutral by Bridgett M. Davis was a more contemporary piece set in the Michigan of my time. I could relate to some of the styles and culture happenings of Detroit even though I was in Missouri and downstate during the 70s. I could feel the love of the father-daughter relationship and so wanted to pick up the phone and call my own late father. This is one I will have my daughters read once they hit high school.

4. A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight took me back to antebellum Louisiana and a young woman's journey from protected daughter to enslaved object. Her color, or lack thereof, her exotic beauty, and her realization that while she was powerless against the advances of her masters, she was empowered to discover her world, her way. She remembered and through her voice, I remember.


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