Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Year The Colored Sisters Came To Town

The summer of one's eleventh year is a magical time in almost all young girls' lives. It is the cusp of budding puberty and the carefree moments of remaining childhood. It is the space of question and wonder, of exploration and explanation, it is a moment of sealing one's thoughts and expectations.

Such is the summer of 1957 for Miss Viven Leigh Dubois, a cajun girl living on the brink of change in rural Louisiana. The Year The Colored Sisters Came To Town, by Jacqueline Guidry is presented in her voice, for the readers to wonder with her, like catching fireflies in a jar, if things would ever be tranquil again. 

Encountering the complexities of Catholic heritage and education, racial divide and place questions, gender expectations and "change-of-life-babies," this sweet coming-of-age novel invites us to have a conversation with this young girl as we step into her world.

The cast of characters is as rich as the lush Louisiana soil, as flavorful as one of Aussie's famous cakes and as stubborn as her father's fear of the new. This is a welcomed volume on the shelf along side To Kill A Mockingbird, browngirl dreaming, and The Secret Life of Bees, each one giving the reader a different glimpse in the lived out experiences of people during the tumultuous Jim Crow and Civil Rights Era.

Invited to wonder about the holiness of nuns, especially a colored one from New York, and the fear of the sheets who burned down the school, Vivien explores the human emotions of the adults around her as they navigate the thin line between white and black. Should things stay the same?

"A person could spend her whole life trying to understand people, why they did what they did, and still not understand most of what goes on around her."

A little bit like sweet tea and lemonade, lavender shortbread cookies, and a cool breeze, this was an enjoyable read.

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