Author: Joan Steinau Lester
Where I Got The Book: JKSCommunications
Why I Read It: I received an email from JKSCommunications about reading and reviewing some books. This one interested me the most!
Rating: 4 stars
I was contacted by JKSCommunications to read and review this book, Mama’s Child by Joan Steinau Lester. As stated on my blog, this is my honest review of the book. As soon as I read what the book was about, I was instantly interested in reading it.
The book is set in the late 70s around 1978, where a white woman meets a black man, they fall in love and have children together. In 1978, this was “frowned upon”, and Elizabeth, the mother, and her husband, Soloman were apart of numerous groups fighting for equal rights, including the Black Liberation Movement, participating in protest marches, visiting Black Panthers and trying to show those around them that interracial couples and children were not wrong, and how black people deserved to have just as many rights, not be discriminated against, etc. as they had been. Elizabeth and Soloman have two children, Che and Ruby. These two are inseperable and love being around each other, and are closer than most brothers and sisters usually are. As they are growing up, the unthinkable happens and their family is split apart. Ruby is left with her mother, and Che goes with his father.
Ruby starts growing up, and is noticing that her mother is changing into someone she doesn’t even recognize. Elizabeth is trying too hard. She’s a white woman trying to be black, which embarrasses Ruby. Ruby watches her best friend, Imani, and her mother Inez, and sees how a “real” black family should be living, and Ruby starts to resent her mother, and the way she is treated.
The very first page of this book is a letter that Ruby writes to her mother, telling her that she no longer wants to speak to her, and she is moving on with her life. She holds a grudge against Elizabeth for the way she “raised” her, and for not giving her the real black culture Ruby needed growing up. Ruby struggled with her own identity for years, not knowing if she was black, or white. And because of this, and because Elizabeth did not try harder, Ruby was against everything her mother ever was, or wasn’t.
This book was great. I found myself not being able to put it down. It kept getting my attention more and more, and what I liked most about it, was that I felt like the characters were real. Some authors have a hard time bringing their characters to life, but Joan had no problem with that at all.
The book alternates between Elizabeth (Lizzie’s) point of view and Ruby’s. I like books like this, because it keeps a clear understanding of what the story line is saying, and what it is going after. With that said, I found myself going back and forth between who I was routing for. Did I want Ruby to stop being selfish and change the relationship with her Mom? Or did I agree with Ruby, and that it was all of her Mother’s fault? I can honestly say that I kept getting equally angry at Ruby and her mother. Throughout the entire book, I kept saying, “Come on! You two can get through this! Your family!” And when a book makes you pull for its characters, then it is definitely a good book.
There were a few things that I did not necessarily enjoy about the book, but they weren’t anything too dramatic that would cause me to never read the book again. A few times it jumped to something absolutely random. I won’t say what, because I don’t want to give the book away, but I could have done without one of them, simply because it was so random. Then there was one other part towards the end of the book where it kind of jumped from when Ruby was still young, to when she was graduated and moved out of her mother’s home. This confused me because there wasn’t really a intro into that next event. Nonetheless though, neither of this these things ruined the book.
I enjoyed this book so much, that not only would I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good book based on finding ones identity, racial profiling/background, and young adult, but I think this would be a great book to have in a college classroom, or even a high school class room where they could read it, and discuss it for class.
So, without further ado, I give this book:
**I would like to thank everyone at JSKCommunications for allowing me to read and review the book suggestions that they send me. I would also like to thank Joan Steinau Lester and everyone on her team for allowing me to read her book and do the review.