Playing My Mother's Blues by Valerie Wilson Wesley

Stories about mothers and daughters can be either a cliché or a conversation.

Valerie Wilson Wesley invited us to consider the present situation of one mother and her two daughters as they grabble with a decison made before they were aware of the consequenses.

Stepping into this muse, stretched out over the course of one weekend, felt a lot like sitting down for a latte with a sistafriend and asking her, "Tell me what happened." We would sit there for hours while she weaves together the events, memory fading in spaces, that completely altered the last twenty years.

Oftentimes, I have found myself asking "what if" when I think of my late mother.

A girl without a mother is almost always wondering, searching, pondering.

This is a story of just such emotions, wrapped around the tragic events of two decisions that made one question being respectable and being reckless.  What if.

Dani, Rose, Maria/Mariah, Mai, Trish, Lucille, Irish - these women and the intrigue behind their life decisions, lived in my lifetime - will resonate with me. How many women's lives mirror this story of being in the shadow of one mother's ambition and another mother's passion? How many sisters are protective of each other and how many friends are more than friends holding space for one to find their way?

Secrets. So many untolds. Is it because we can't handle the truth, or is it because our wealth and intellect demand that we speak an existence that does not whisper a shadowed second?

In the backdrop of this very real woman's story is the presence of men in shaping the experiences of women. Will we ever be free from the wielding of power, demands of soul, or place of want that accompanies the self-proclaimed masters of the universe? Do women's very lives only have an existence in and around the self-centered decision of the men who interrrupt their story?

When I think about my late mother, who passed away when I was four, I often wonder about her story. I yearn for her the way seven-year-old Dani yearned for her mother to choose her first. What is it about mothers-and-daughters that continue to reflect the deeper issues of identity, understanding, expectation, want, and need?

This is a very accessible and highly readable story by a prolific author. Valerie Wilson Wesley realistically offers us a tale that can be as real as the historical references set to place this tale in my adulthood.

Perhaps the mother's blues are the daughter's chords.

Tayé Foster Bradshaw lives and works in Kirkwood, Missouri surrounded by her books, mug collection, and love from her daughters that propels her to keep reviewing strong stories of black women.


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