Wednesday, May 16, 2018
The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips
Title: The Darkest Child
Author: Delores Phillips
Published: 2004 / 2018
Call #: Fic Phillips
Set in the small town of Bakersfield, Georgia in the late fifties and early sixties, The Darkest Child is the story of Tangy Mae Quinn, her nine siblings, and their mother Rozelle. Due to her dark skin, Tangy Mae is considered ugly by her light-skinned mother, but she's the smartest of the ten children and is given a chance to be a part of the first integrated class at the formerly all-white high school.
Rozelle exerts a violent hold over her children and her cruelty is horrific. She has made all of the children older the Tangy quit school and go to work. She forces her daughters into prostitution and makes her sons give up all of their wages to help support the household, yet she fears abandonment and can't seem to understand why her children leave her as soon as they can.
Originally published in 2004, this is a new edition of Delores Phillips' award-winning novel that contains an introduction written by Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage. The 2018 edition also includes an excerpt from a sequel left unfinished at the time of the author's death and a book group discussion guide.
While this book is disturbing in many ways, it is also a captivating coming-of-age novel set in the pre-Civil Rights South. Rozelle's terrible abuse of her children is hard to read, but when the reason behind it becomes clear, it is much too late to sympathize with the character. The story is grim but gripping, a vivid portrayal of the south in the last days of segregation.
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