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Mama Day by Gloria Naylor

Mama Day (original 1988; edition 1989)

by Gloria Naylor

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1,0402012,722 (4.13)54
Mama Day uses her ancient knowledge of herbal medicine and pits herself in mortal combat with dark forces that threaten the body and soul of her niece, Cocoa.
Title:Mama Day
Authors:Gloria Naylor
Info:Vintage (1989), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 312 pages
Collections:Your library

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Mama Day by Gloria Naylor (1988)


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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I reread Mama Day while on vacation this summer and it was great, once again. Naylor writes such rich female characters and it's hard not to count them among personal friends and enemies when the book's over. ( )
  barrettlucero | Aug 28, 2019 |
Mama Day! Is it a contemporary story? Yes, partly. Is it a folktale? Yes, partly. Is It history? Yes, partly. In addition, there are influences from Shakespeare and magical realism.

While some of this imaginative story takes place in New York City, most of the action is on Willow Springs, a fictional island that is between, but does not belong to, South Carolina and Georgia. The island has an unusual history and an unusual cast of characters, one of whose three names is Ophelia.

I so enjoyed this book that I didn't want it to end!
( )
  steller0707 | Aug 25, 2019 |
Another strong book by Naylor. A city woman is still tied to her country roots, exemplified by the elder women who raised her. In another author, I would call this magical realism, but here it just seems like daily life. I'm still not sure I understood what Seraphina was all about...the distant past remains shrouded in mystery (or mystique).
At times I had to be very focused to track which character was speaking/thinking, as they aren't always identified. That was good, in its way, as it kept me engaged with the story. ( )
  juniperSun | Dec 9, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Although there is an element of mysticism that figures prominently in the story it is, at heart, about people and community - interesting characters who are quite different from one another yet all fit together beautifully in this work. It is sometimes a sad book in that bad things happen to good people yet, for me, that wasn’t as meaningful to the story as the comfort and joy in the strong relationships between the characters.

I sometimes get irritated with books with multiple narrators and character’s points of view but I think it was pulled off very well here and I never felt confused or jolted by the switch between narrators. Naylor does a beautiful job bringing to life Willow Springs and it’s residents. Mama Day made me smile and laugh to myself so often I know she will stay in my thoughts for a long while. I didn’t even mind the characters that I personally found rather unlikeable, such as Cocoa, because they were so well fleshed out and vital to the story.

This is my first book by Gloria Naylor but I now have the rest of her novels on my to read list and I can’t wait to get to them. ( )
  jensteele | Jan 31, 2018 |
My husband recommended this book to me and so far it’s my absolute favorite out of all of his recommendations. Willow Springs is an island that is part of the US, but doesn’t really belong to any state — it’s just sort of its own place. There, Mama Day is renowned for her powers as a healer and is often called upon to work some small bits of magic on people to help them keep their health. Her great-niece Cocoa has moved away from the island to live in New York, and when she comes to the island with her husband to visit, she catches the eye of a voodoo practitioner who’s been known to cast evil spells on women her husband finds pretty. Cocoa is put in trouble as the voodoo woman’s husband makes a pass at her, and Mama Day has to do everything in her power to save her great-niece from the woman’s curse.

The beginning starts off slow — I wasn’t a fan of the budding romance story line between Cocoa and George, though it’s important to the story overall. It’s a little dull, as they seem to love each other, but don’t really seem to be a good match for each other. George doesn’t want to make a lot of sacrifices to let Cocoa into his life, and Cocoa doesn’t seem to be willing either. They get into a lot of fights and play games with each other, but it somehow manages to even out and work between them. Once they’re established as a couple it gets better, especially when they visit Willow Springs with each other.

The parts that really brought me in were the magical realism elements; Naylor’s magical realism plays with the ideas of old wives’ tales and superstition, just giving them a whole lot more power than they really have. Mama Day is a great healer because she knows how plants work and how to use them on bodies to make them well. She’s also able to somewhat tell the future by reading the way nature behaves, which is an interesting take on how magic works. It’s incredibly believable and not at all jarring, which is nice. It’s also super interesting. All of the action that takes place at Willow Springs shines and makes the novel incredible.

This novel is something that I spent days thinking about after I finished it — it deals with how the past has its hold on all of us, how even our distant ancestors’ decisions weighs in on our lives and creates patterns that are difficult to break. It explores the power of woman and nature and how the ties between us and our loved ones gives us strength and also serve as weaknesses. I will say that though this is a Tempest reworking, I like this a whole lot better than The Tempest. It’s a wonderful, tragic story, and one of my favorites this year. Definitely recommend to those interested in magical realism, tales of family, and literary works.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Nov 21, 2017 |
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For Corlies Morgan Smith
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Willow Springs. Everybody knows but nobody talks about the legend of Sapphira Wade.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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