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Before Women Had Wings by Connie May Fowler

Before Women Had Wings (1996)

by Connie May Fowler

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It is painful to read because of the subject matter, but there are some bits of excellent description. It is a somewhat autobiographical work. The ending is somewhat abrupt. This writer shows promise.

Bird is the youngest child of Billy and Glory Jackson - two alcoholic, abusive parents. She daydreams she is Jesus' girlfriend and tries to make sense of her world - why she is "so bad" and gets beaten so often.

When her father commits suicide her mother moves the family to Tampa, where she "does her best" but sinks into an alcoholic depression and strikes out at her children. Bird, however, befriends Miss Zora, an elderly black woman some say is a witch. But Zora's main "spell" is her love and calmness - she gives Bird a sense of confidence and ultimately Glory agrees to send Bird and Phoebe with Miss Zora. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 11, 2016 |
Sadness, pain, agony, despair, loneliness, torture, suicide, alcoholism, and then finally hope...... ( )
  shesinplainview | Mar 23, 2015 |
  JudyMS | Jul 6, 2014 |
Well written, but incredibly sad. Thank heaven for Miss Zora, even if she is the proverbial wise, loving, Black woman, to help the fractured white girl learn to overcome her dysfunctional family and horrible mother.... ( )
  bookczuk | Oct 1, 2011 |
After 576 pages of Serial Killers: They Live to Kill, I wanted some lighter fiction. My mistake in picking up Before Women Had Wings. You'd think after reading about history's worst, I'd be ok with an abusive mother...but unlike with Serial Killers, at the end of Fowler's novel, I cried.

It wasn't a sob cry, mind you, but the kind of relief cry when you are glad the awfulness is over and you can relax and perhaps forget. I ached terribly for the little girl Bird and the life she had been born in to - with the parents to which she must submit and the poorness she must accept. If any little girl character comes close to the greatness of Lee's Scout, it's Fowler's Bird.

Though this book was the 1996 winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, this isn't enough praise. No reading has kept me up into the late, late night with anticipation and worry and hope in many, many years. Closing the book after its last page and exhaustingly refreshed into a deep sleep is the best bravo I can give an author. ( )
  librarianshannon | Mar 3, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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We will have the wings of eagles when the fallen angels fly. - Billy Joe Shaver
For Faith
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Back in 1965, on a day so hot that God Almighty should have been writhing with sick-to-the-stomach guilt over driving His children out of the cool green of Eden, my daddy walked into our general store, held a revolver to his head, told my mama that he couldn't take any more and that because of her harsh ways and his many sins he was going to blow his brains out.
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My name is Avocet Abigail Jackson. But because Mama couldn't find anyone who though Avocet was a fine name for a child, she called me Bird. Which is okay with me. She named both of her children after birds, her logic being that if we were named for something with wings then maybe we'd be able to fly... So says Bird Jackson, the mesmerizing narrator of CMF vivid and brilliantly written novel. Starstruck by a dime-store picture of Jesus, Bird fancies herself "HIs girlfriend" and embarks upon a spiritual quest for salvation, even as the chaos of her home life plunges her into a stony silence. In stark and honest language, she tells the tragic life of her father, a sweet-talking wanna-be country music star, tracks her older sister's perilous journey into womanhood, and witnesses her mother make a courageous and ultimately devastating decision. Yet most profound is Bird's own story-her struggle to sift through the ashes of her parent's lives; her meeting with Miss Zora, a healer whose prayers over the bones of winged creatures are meant to guide their souls to heaven; and her will to make sense of a world where fear is more plentiful than hope, retrubution more valued than love... (0-449-91144-6)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449911446, Paperback)

Raised in an atmosphere of poverty and violence, 6-year-old Avocet Abigail Jackson, or Bird as she's called, is wise beyond her years. After falling to abuse by her alcoholic parents and the destructive upheaval of moving from one flop house to the next, her one solace is Jesus, whom she fantasizes as a possible suitor. While her older sister discovers romance with a local boy, Bird discovers Miss Zora, a mysterious black woman who lives alone in a cottage near Bird's school and comes to teach the little girl about dignity and her own capacity for forgiveness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:22 -0400)

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Avocet Abigail Jackson employs a number of devices to enable her to endure an increasingly violent childhood that only gets worse after her father commits suicide and her mother becomes an alcoholic.

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