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The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips
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The Darkest Child

by Delores Phillips

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Lately, I've been reading about families. The more dysfunctional, the better. The Darkest Child certainly fits the bill. Well written, true dialogue, achingly realistic, this is a story of triumph despite unbelievable odds. Narrated by thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae (she and I share middle names) who is the darkest child, the opening scene introduces Rozelle Quinn, the most manipulative, controlling, abusive, evil mother imaginable. After reading this book, I will never complain about my upbringing again. The following summary is from litlovers.com

Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white. Yet everyone in her small Georgia town knows. Rozelle's ten children (by ten different daddies) are mostly light, too. They sleep on the floor in her drafty, rickety three-room shack and live in fear of her moods and temper. But they are all vital to her. They occupy the only world she rules and controls. They multiply her power in an otherwise cruel and uncaring universe.

Rozelle favors her light-skinned kids, but insists that they all love and obey her unquestioningly. Tangy Mae, thirteen, is her brightest but darkest-complected child. Tangy wants desperately to continue with her education. Shockingly, the highest court in the land has just ruled that Negroes may go to school with whites. Her mother, however, has other plans.

Rozelle wants her daughter to work, cleaning houses for whites, like she does, and accompany her to the "Farmhouse," where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Tangy Mae, she's decided, is of age.
( )
  TerrisGrimes | Jun 16, 2014 |
This book was an amazing read! It touches upon family troubles and race issues as well. Although the topics are controversial, a the end of the book there are several lessons that will stick with you. I highly recommend this book!
  Laaaron | Dec 10, 2013 |
The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips is soul wrenching horrendous. One would never believe that a Mother could so deeply harm a child, let alone "10" of them, emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. Rozelle is a woman who is Pure Evil! She cares for no one, not even herself. Unfortunately, the reader never finds out why Rozelle is the way she is. She's hateful, spiteful, souless, and completely mental. She has 10 children by 10 different men. Most are as white as she is with one being what she calls "A Dummy" and the other "Dark as her tires". This is a Mother who pimps her sons and prostitutes her daughters.

They lived in a small town in 50's and 60's back when there were signs of segregation and blacks were no longer slaves but instead paid slaves, maids. The people in the town had just grown accustomed to the way things were and weren't looking nor asking for change. And when one does he dissappears. There are many complex characters in this story. It is a page turner for sure. I just couldn't stop reading about this mass of disfunction.

I was disheartened to learn that Ms. Phillips hasn't written another novel. I wouldn't have thought from the texture and complex nature of this novel, it was her first. I'm sure I wont forget this book any time soon. It is hard for me to write this review without giving away spoilers. There's just too much to tell. Pick this book up. You wont be dissappointed.

Some Quotes;

"Took everything out, said I couldn't have no mo', and all I got was a darkie"

"We could feel recognizable anger replace incomprehensible insanity,"

"Mama stood at the edge of the porch dangling our baby sister over the side by one arm"

"I musta been 'bout 'leven or twelve when Mama tried to get Mr. Frank to screw me."

"Says she lit a match and threw it. Just walked on out the damn house and left my sister in there to burn." ( )
  Sunflower38 | Apr 11, 2013 |
This book is quite possibly one of the most disturbing books I've read. And that's why I gave it 4 stars. Any book that grab and twist my emotions is a winner. I wanted to stop reading it ~ the abuse scenes were cringe worthy. Not just the physical aspects, but the mental aspects... a part of me just kept asking myself if there are really kids who are living under these conditions and I know there are which made this story all the more compelling.

Tangy and her siblings are sympathetically written. They have hopes and dreams, the need to be loved... All of this despite everything that their mother did to them. I like that the end of the book was open ended, instead of wrapped in a neat little package. Phillips debut novel is definitely an emotional journey not for the faint of heart.

I would recommend this novel for book discussion groups because of the varied topics: race relations, child abuse, color issues within the black community, poverty and education. Just be prepared to put the book down and walk away for a few minutes. ( )
  curiouschild | Feb 21, 2012 |
This book was similar in the vein of The Help, but much more raw and gritty. This book has scenes in that I will never forget. They were shocking and harsh. The characters all had a lot of depth to them. They grew and they changed. I enjoy books about this period in American history. This was a great addition to it. It was really well written and I would love to read anything else that Delores Phillips has to offer. ( )
  goldiebear | Aug 13, 2011 |
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Dedication
To my sister, Linda Miller, my brothers, Lennie Miller and Gregory Green, and my daughter, Shalana Harris.
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Mama washed the last dish she ever intended to wash. I alone witnessed the event, in silence.
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"honor thy mother".
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white. Her ten children are mostly light, too. Everyone in the small Georgia town in which she lives knows that they have different fathers. She favors her light children, but it is Tangy Mae, the darkest of them all, who is the brightest and the only one desperate to get an education. Even in rural Pakersfield they have heard of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, though they are in no hurry to comply with it." "Rozelle wants thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae to take over her jobs: days, doing house cleaning for whites; nights, servicing men, white and black, at the "Farmhouse." And Rozelle is not a woman whose commands can lightly be ignored. She is a creature of moods, possessive of all her children, desperate for their love, demanding of utter loyalty and obedience, harshly repressive of any signs of independence. They are the only thing in her life that she can control." "The Darkest Child shows us a world misshapen by years of oppression in which family is powerful yet offers little kindness or comfort. It shows us a world in which attitudes of prejudice have been adopted by its victim, and the resulting struggle of those who are darker complected is a struggle not only against outsiders, but against the closest of kin."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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