Wednesday, September 6, 2017

#BookReview A KIND OF FREEDOM by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Summary: Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War II. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society, and when she falls for no-account Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves.

In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Just as she comes to terms with his abandoning the family, he returns, ready to resume their old life.

Jackie’s son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn't survive the storm. Fresh out of a four-month stint for drug charges, T.C. decides to start over—until an old friend convinces him to stake his new beginning on one last deal.

Review: Early into A Kind of Freedom, I was struck by the setting, the domineering father, the generations explored and the era. It immediately reminded me of Eleni N. Gage's The Ladies of Managua. And though the books have those factors in common, that is where the similarities end.

As the daughters of a respected doctor, as Creoles, Evelyn and her sister Ruby are expected to conduct themselves as proper ladies. For Evelyn, that has never been a problem, but Ruby likes pushing boundaries. It comes as a surprise then that Evelyn is the one that marries Renard, not quite the man her parents would have chosen for her. While we get glimpses into Ruby's life, the main focus of the book is Evelyn and her progeny.

We see Evelyn's daughter, Jackie, fall in love with a functional addict right as crack swept the country. And we see the affect that has on Jackie's son, T.C., fresh out of jail and already plotting and planning. I really love how the author focuses on the effect the previous generation has on the present generation, as well as how their environment affects them. It's interesting to read and realize that while Evelyn, Ruby and their parents lived through the Jim Crow South, financially and class wise, they're better off than their future generations. Isn't it the dream of every parent to see their child do better than them? Can that happen in an unstable environment? Can they succeed against all odds?

There's so much covered in just 256 pages, so many questions still to be answered. I would love to see another book that covers a more developed story line for Ruby. And I'd be open to reading more about their parents before Evelyn and Ruby came along. Honestly, I'm open to reading whatever comes next from this author.

256 p.
Published: August 2017
Disclaimer: Copy  of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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