Thursday, March 30, 2006

NOWHERE IS A PLACE by Bernice L. McFadden

Bernice L. McFadden, NOWHERE IS A PLACE (Dutton, 2006).

Sherry is rootless. A well-educated bohemian, she feels at ease with people from diverse cultures. But, she is not at ease with herself. Over the years, she has gone through many men, jobs, and cities looking for satisfaction. Sherry is stuck in the past. She cannot let go of an incident from her childhood in which her mother slapped her without provocation--or at least a reason that she could understand. Now Sherry has an idea of how to come terms with herself and her past. She invites her mother (nicknamed Dumpling) on a road trip from Nevada to the family reunion in Georgia. Given the emotional distance between her and her daughter, Dumpling is suprised by the invitation. However, she accepts it. As they travel, Sherry asks Dumpling to respond to a story that she has written about the family history. Usually impatient with Sherry's many questions, Dumpling opens up about the past. By the end of their journey, mother and daughter have uncovered a legacy of strength that provides them hope and inspiration.
This novel will appeal to fans of literary fiction. McFadden's prose is lyrical, her characterizations are rich, and her narrative is multi-layered.

On her website, Bernice McFadden shares her own journey from frustrating corporate jobs to a fulfilling career as an author. She also writes under the name "Geneva Holliday".
You might also like:

African-American fiction writers have long explored the theme of "finding yourself by exploring your history."

One excellent example is Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. It's the story of Macon "Milkman" Dead III, a young black man from a rich Michigan family. He is sheltered, selfish, arrogant, and directionless. Believing that there is a fortune in gold hidden in a cave near his father's old Pennsylvania farm, Milkman begins a quest that eventually leads him to his ancestral home in Virginia. In the end, Milkman retrieves a family legacy more valuable than the loot he sought. He matures and comes to regret the shabby way he has treated other people including his girlfriends. Oprah Winfrey acknowledged the brilliance of this novel by selecting it as her second book club selection.

Also try Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall.
For your consideration:
Why do enjoy novels of self-discovery? What are some of your favorites?

Doris Dixon, Raleigh Branch Library

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