A Matter of Souls by Denise Lewis Patrick

This collection of little vignettes was a delight to read.  I found this little treasure in the local library while perusing titles in the Teen Section in preparation for The Hurston & Hughes Literary Circle 2.0 that I lead every summer.

The stories span the space of American black history that did not feel like I was reading a recitation of facts of the horrors of being sun kissed in the deep south. Ms. Patrick deftly presented the topics and left it up to us to uncover the deeper meaning in her conservation of words.

When the matter of human history is examined in the fullness, one of the things we share in common is the soul, the space of wonder, of will, of emotion, of feelings, that is supposed to set us apart from other breathing creatures. Sun kissed or moon white, humanity in the depths of being, longs for acceptance, love, and connection. That was present in these little moments with a son finding his way, a daugther wondering about life, and a father taking a chance. Introduced to the characters in mid-happening, life a snapshot, we are able to pause and wonder about the nuns who taught black kids but didn't like them, the many who did not migrate and were left behind in a place stubbornly clingling to a false notion of superiority, the kindness of one behind a lens, gently reminders that humanity is the most precious thing.

This gentle little book is accessible in language and relevant still, as a matter of souls is the matter of history.


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