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The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips

The Darkest Child

by Delores Phillips

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Tangy is the daughter of a light-colored mother who has fathered several children, each with a different father. Although no longer wanting to serve as a maid in a white family’s house, she forces Tangy and her older sister into prostitution to support their brothers and sisters. Filled with sadness most often caused by the mother’s insanity, Tangy still hopes she will graduate from high school and find a peaceful life for her and her younger sisters. Poignantly written, this story shows how determination and stubbornness help people survive in a life in which they have no control. ( )
  brangwinn | Mar 25, 2018 |
Tangy's skin is the darkest of her siblings, and she feels it acutely. This young teenager struggles to survive a volatile period in American history with a mother who values her children based on the color of their skin. As Tangy says herself, "there's something wrong with Mama."

Oh, is there ever something wrong with Mama!

I knew this would be a hard novel to get through, however, I didn't realize just how disturbing it would become. Early on in the novel, Tangy relates how her mother, Rozelle, ensured none of them would touch a particular box: she slams an ice pick into one of her daughter's hands. And the abuse heaped on the children worsens from there.

The more I read, the more horrified I was with Rozelle's actions. Of course, the time period this was set, there was little the children could be done and if there had been someone they could have turned to, I don't think they would have due to their mother's manipulative behavior. What made Rozelle so unsettling were the moments when she acted like a caring mother.

Tangy herself at times seems to be just the tool for us to observe this mother's actions. It was difficult to really pinpoint her personality. (Also, the moment when she is chosen to attend an all-white school happens, I expected to have more impact on the story and to happen sooner than it did.) She's smart, but perhaps as a result of her mother, she keeps herself suppressed to protect herself.

The author's narrative was effective. I felt like I was there, living the horror with Tangy. There were moments of strong language, no doubt appropriate for the time and situation, but distasteful to me. Also when Rozelle decides Tangy is old enough to "work" (sells her for sex), the details were more than necessary.

Many of commented on the ending. It does feel open-ended, as though nothing were really resolved. I suspect the author was trying to keep to real life. Not everyone gets what they deserve, but it is still disappointing.

Overall, this is a book I would only recommend to those who are prepared for the abuse detailed within. Even if the author had lived long enough to complete the sequel, I don't think I would have been able to read it.

I received a free copy from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. ( )
  TheQuietReader | Jan 11, 2018 |
Tangy Mae, an intelligent, dark skinned girl is one of 10 (or so) children of Rozelle Quinn, an insane, abusive, tyrant who thinks of no one but herself. The story takes place in Georgia just before the rulings on desegregation. How any child could endure the horrors which befell this darkest child is beyond my imagination. A very disturbing and sad story ( )
  AstridG | Mar 21, 2017 |
The story of a black family in rural Georgia in the 1950's. The time and the setting are not bad enough for a black person but add to that a black woman (who is very white) just keeps having babies - black, indian and white. Unfortunately she is not really sane and the horrors she puts on her children are much worse then the segregation around them. One daughter (the darkest child) who is berated for being ugly finally graduates from high school and makes the break. ( )
  joannemonck | Sep 17, 2016 |
The heart wrenching story of a young girl's struggle against poverty, abuse, and racial oppression. Main character Tangy Mae's nine siblings shared in showing how their dysfunctional family and the Jim Crow community affected them and how they either coped or failed. The mother's actions were almost unbelievable but who hasn't heard or read of similar stories from real life? If this book had a sequel I'd be picking it up right now. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
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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.
"honor thy mother".
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fourteen-year-old Tangy Mae tells of the brutal physical and mental abuse that her mother inflicts on her and her ten siblings.

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