I heard a lot of chatter about this book in the same FB group that I have gotten all my book recommendations from and usually, they are right about a good book. Notice, I said “usually.”
This book seemed to cover all the dysfunctions one family could have. There’s abuse, child neglect, broken labor laws, trafficking… you know, all the makings of an interesting fictional story. So, I decided to check it out.
The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips
We are introduced to Tangy Mae. She’s the sixth of ten children born to her mom, Rozelle Quinn. She’s one of the darkest children in the bunch and only 13 years old. She seems to be smart, has her wits about her, and very obedient to her mom… out of fear, not respect b/c there’s a difference. 😐
There are nine other siblings; Mushy, Sam, Wallace, Martha Jean, Judy (newborn), Edna, Laura, Harvey, and Tarabelle. Rozelle breaks them down into color groups. As Tangy Mae says, “She took pleasure at categorizing her children by race; Mushy, Harvey, Sam, and Martha Jean were her white children. Tarabelle, Wallace, and Laura were her Indians, Cherokee to be exact. Edna, Judy, and I were Negroes.”
The physical, psychological, and emotional abuse inflicted on them at the hands of Rozelle is unreal sometimes… okay, all the time. The tactics that she uses to keep the kids in line are indicative of someone who doesn’t need children, yet has too many of them b/c she can.
Rozelle does things such as making her older girls sleep with strange men, making the kids drop out of school to work, making them all sleep on the floor while she’s in a bed, telling them they aren’t worth anything, nobody would want them, refuses to hold Judy, the newest baby and the list goes on…
Given this environment at home, which is constant, unrelenting, and unchanging… how does Tangy Mae, and the rest of her siblings, survive? Mushy makes it out and thrives outside of the Quinn household. Who else can do the same?
We all know how the history of colorism in the Black community began. It started with the “light-skinned” slaves being allowed in the house while the “dark-skinned” slaves remained outside. It was basically a plot to make the “light-skinned” slaves think they were better than “dark-skinned” slaves, which created a division amongst them.
Fast forward to today, that same mentality still permeates the Black community. I mean, in 400+ YEARS, this division amongst ourselves hasn’t died out. People out here still treating light-skinned and fairer-skinned women like they are better than darker-skinned women, which becomes a cycle and then here we are.
That’s just one aspect of the book, but one that was important to point out b/c it still happens today. Other aspects such as familial abuse, selling their souls for money, no importance placed on education, self-esteem issues, mental health, and the breakdown of the familial unit… are all themes in the book as well.
I won’t lie to y’all… this was hard to read at times. I mean, the dysfunction was a lot to take in and digest b/c, once again, it still happens in various forms today. One solution to such generational and familial dysfunction is therapy/counseling, but that’s taboo in the Black community as well. Post here, if you missed it.
Even tho the book had familial dysfunction, I was still intrigued. One, b/c I know that those are real-life issues that many families face today. Two, those issues can be eradicated if the affected parties are ready to heal and face those demons. Three, I wanted to know how Tangy Mae and the crew survived Rozelle’s reign of terror. Not only the terror from their mother, but also the terror from being a “negro” in the 1950s, in the south.
Of course, I recommend this book! I mean, why wouldn’t I? I started reading this book at the end of June and was at 100pgs by the 1st of July. Yes, this book is THAT good! So much so, that I had to keep reminding myself that it was set in the 1950s b/c I had the tendency to forget if I wasn’t careful… again b/c these issues can easily be today’s issues. You know, history repeats itself if we aren’t careful.
This is EASILY in the Top 5 of my favorite books of 2019. I didn’t even have a list before this book, but I have one now! I was so sad for it to end that I tried to drag it out for as long as I could. Sadly, it ended. Post here.
Please come back and let me know if you chose to read it or have read it already. I would love to know what you thought about it. Comment below.