Wednesday, January 4, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips

Title:                                                  The Darkest Child
Author:                                              Delores Phillips
How I learned about this book?       Cannot remember.  This was my second time reading it.
How long did it take to read it?        4 days
Was it a hard read?                          No.

"Phillips's searing debut reveals the poverty, injustices and cruelties that one black family suffers—some of this at the hands of its matriarch—in a 1958 backwater Georgia town. Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn loves her mother, Rozelle, but knows there's "something wrong" with her—which, as it soon becomes clear, is an extreme understatement. As the novel opens, Rozelle is getting ready to give birth to her 10th child (by a 10th father) and thinking about forcing the obedient Tangy Mae, who longs to stay in school, to take over her housecleaning job. Using a large cast of powerfully drawn characters, Phillips captures life in a town that serves as a microcosm of a world on the brink of change. There's Junior, the perpetual optimist, who wants to teach people to read and write so they can understand the injustices of Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan; Hambone, a here today/gone tomorrow rabble-rouser whose anger against white men and their laws inflames those around him; and Miss Pearl, the only true friend to the Quinn family. At the dark heart of the story is Rozelle, the beautiful mixed-race head of the Quinn family whose erratic mood swings, heart-wrenching cruelty and deep emotional distress leave an indelible mark on all her children. Through all the violence and hardship breathes the remarkable spirit of Tangy Mae, who is wise beyond her years; forced to do unspeakable things by her mother and discriminated against by the town's whites, she manages to survive and to rescue a younger sister from the same fate. "
(From Amazon)

Even though the book held a depressing tone, it was highly enjoyable.  I read the book five years ago so I knew the plot, but forgotten a great deal of the details of the book.  I was surprised that it kept my interest and kept me on the edge where I just had to get to another chapter (which caused me to go to sleep later than I wanted to) since this was my second time reading it. 

Pros:
For this to be her first book, the writing was excellent.  I felt that it was an original tale especially since I have self diagnosis the mother as schizophrenic.  I hardly come across books with that shows this disease in the black community.

I loved how no was perfect.  Everyone had their flaws.  However the other end of this could be that this made it hard for me, the reader, to like them or be able to relate to them.

Cons:
With so many characters in the book, I felt that some of the supporting characters could have been developed more.  I was left with the feeling that I was deprived of knowing more about them or what happened to them. 

In conclusion, I highly recommend this book.  So if you are interested in historical fiction set in the south about poor blacks with complexion issues, THEN THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!  LOL…

Would you buy this book?                          Most definitely.
Would you borrow it from the library?      Yes which is what I did both times I read it.

5 comments:

Dusky Literati said...

I purchased this book last year but didn't have an opportunity to read it. I'm really want to read in 2012. Happy New Year!

Book Snob Wannabe said...

Thanks for stopping by!

The book was a very good read, you should add it to your list for 2012

Happy New Year to you too!!

MoniqueReads said...

This has been on my reading list for more years than I want to admit. In fact, I think I own a copy and have never gotten around to reading it.

This year hopefully I will.

Kinga Bee said...

It looks like an interesting read. I hope it doesnt' swerve too much to 'Misery lit'

Book Snob Wannabe said...

@Kinga Bee: "Misery Lit" too funny. I don't think I ever heard of that. It's not misery lit, but since you put it that way, it maybe close to it. LOL....