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The Good Negress by A. J. Verdelle
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The Good Negress

by A. J. Verdelle

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This excellent first novel examines issues of the black experience in America in a new voice. It is the coming-of-age story of Denise Palms, who leaves her grandmother's rural home to return to her family in Detroit. Denise's family expects her to concentrate on housework and childcare, but her teacher pushes her to spend time on afterschool lessons in diction and grammar in order to "better" herself. Language is the key to this novel, as the story is told in Denise's own voice, and the evolution of language in her life, as well as the questioning of the need to speak in unnatural words, plunges the book into greater depths than the simple plot would on its own. Contrasts between the urban and rural, home and the broader world, and men and women are emphasized throughout. Verdelle's ear for language is excellent, as is her portrayal of the emotional life of this young girl. Like many novels by African American women, this book portrays a matriarchy and the voicelessness of black women in the broader culture. Recommended for all libraries.-Marie F. Jones, Muskingum Coll. Lib., New Concord, Ohio
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2 vote | goneal | Jul 17, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060976837, Paperback)

In a luminous debut novel that Toni Morrison declared "truly extraordinary," A.J. Verdelle tells the story of young Denise Palms, transplanted from her grandmother's rural Virginia home to the chaos of big-city Detroit in 1963 to help care for the baby her mother and stepfather are expecting. PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:35 -0400)

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A 12-year-old black girl living with a grandmother in rural Virginia is summoned by her mother to Detroit to clean house and cook while the mother has another baby. The girl is bright and becomes the protegee of a schoolteacher, but her efforts to improve herself create conflict with her mother's needs of her as a housekeeper. A first novel.… (more)

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