“What I reckon is that pretty soon that light’s gonna go off and you gonna hop over here witcha man. I know you’re worried, but you know how the young ones get at this age; they think they knows it all.”
“I bet she been getting into that drinking mess too, with them lil fast tail girls on down at the church. Lil heifer.”
“If I know one thing about baby girl, is that baby girl ain’t into that drinking. She can’t anyway.”
“See how there you go.”
“There I go what, woman?”
“There you go taking up for her. Same as always. She ain’t gonna never learn if you keep coddling her like you do.”
Gideon chuckled. “Well see that’s the problem. Ain’t enough colored girls being coddled as is.”
“I’m serious, Dee.”
“Hell, I’m serious too. She the only daughter I got. You telling me I can’t spoil her?”
Molly slipped in her night gown and se on the bed.
“This ain’t about spoiling your daughter; this is about you taking her side every time I’m trying to chastise her.”
Gideon ignored his wife and moved closer, wrapping his big black arms around her waist and firmly parlming her booty.
“Looks like I’m on yo side,” he said smiling and burying his face into Molly’s neck. His mustaches sent warm chills down her spine. She couldn’t help but to smile.
Renaissance by Yecheyliah Ysrayl is recognizably the first instalment of a longer story. It is mostly an introduction to a whole world: the Harlem Renaissance, and what it meant for an entire generation of artists. The story follows two main plots. One following Nora, a young aspiring author who finds her way in among the most influential artists of the Harlem Renaissance. The other follows her parents in the South. Lost all news of her, they have to face her disappearance as well as the consequences of past events.
There’s a vast and varied cast of characters. In Nora’s parents’ section, this gives a solid sense of community. Nora’s part of the story instead is crowded with big names of the Renaissance scene. I enjoyed the ‘southern’ thread more – besides, reading about ‘normal’ people is always my preference. But I liked the Renaissance thread too because it revolves around real events. It offers a vision of the movement that is not just the excitement and the advancement of African American art and experience, but also more shady relationships that supported it.
The characters all sound real. I really really liked all the dialogues, it seems like hearing people speaking. Even the crowd scenes (and there are a few in the ‘southern’ thread) are involving and easy to follow.
There is one thing that halted me in places: the story is very fragmented. We have the two main threads that sometimes intertwine in odd places. We also have lots of flashbacks, sometimes one inside the other. It never resulted in confusion, but I did find it unnecessarily complicated. Rather than support each other, these multiple threads happening at different times seems to scatter the story. It results in a difficulty – at least on my part – to see a direction in the novel.
But apart from this, it was a fine, easy read. I enjoyed it.
In post is part of the Thursday Quotables meme. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies