Sunday, April 25, 2010

Book Review -- Glorious

Glorious (Johnny Temple) Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden


My rating: 3 of 5 stars








One thing I’ve learned from reading Bernice McFadden’s works – she doesn’t write about bunnies, rainbows or cotton candy: She takes you to the bottom of the well, lets you roll around in the muck, leaves you waiting for a life line, then brings you back up slowly, so at the end, you are desperate for sunshine.

In Glorious, Easter Bartlett travels a similar journey – one full of racial hatred and brutality – all the while searching for sunshine. After surviving a brutal childhood and traversing the South and other transitory destinations, she arrives in Harlem at the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance, where her writing talent is discovered and revered by other literary giants of the times. Ultimately, her talent is used against her, and Easter’s future is forever altered. In the twilight of her life, she returns to the pre-Civil Rights South, in hopes that past injustices will be rectified.

Bernice McFadden is a beautiful writer. I was transported back to Harlem and could touch the brownstone buildings and smell the earthiness of the streets. Early in the book, her description of a lynching was so vivid, it brought tears to my eyes. However, I had a hard time connecting with some of the characters. Easter was never tangible to me. I understood her pain, but never felt it. Easter’s relationships with many of the other characters were equally distant. And the love triangle between Rain, Meredith and herself was uncomfortable for me. I just didn’t get it. Also, I loved Easter’s time in Harlem – I loved learning more about the leaders of that era. I just wish there had been more of it.

Finally, Bernice really hit stride at the close of the book. Easter’s final years, after her return to the South, are truly poetic.

Once again, white-literary revisionist history has been turned upside down, thanks to Bernice McFadden – and she does a Glorious job.

Sensitive reader: Contains graphic sexual and racial violence; homosexual situations as well.

Book source: received a copy from the author (was not paid or supplemented in any way for my review).




This book qualifies for my Women Unbound reading challenge