Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Good Negress by A.J. Verdelle

The year is 1963, and young Denise Palms has rejoined her family in Detroit where she must work to make a place for herself and prepare for the arrival of her mother's new baby. The baby will mean the end of Denise's afterschool lessons with a stern teacher who insists that Denise learn to speak "proper" English to make herself heard. Verdelle's intuition and ear allow her to dramatize precise moments of Denise's self-recognition and, in the process, offer an inside look at a maturing intelligenceThe Good Negress marks the arrival of an original voice in contemporary fiction.


Denise Palma is a young woman who must help her mother prepare for a baby. The family is poor and Denise will have to forego her after school lessons with her teacher who recognizes Denise's budding abilities and intelligence. This is a contemporary tale, a coming of age story about a young woman who struggles to rise above the dire circumstances of her life and reach out for a better future.

The author tells the story through flashbacks, going back and forth through time. Although I felt this made the story a little disjointed and a bit rough to read, there is much poignancy and fodder for thought. The characters are wonderfully real with their own flaws and strength. Overall, a very passionate tale. 

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