Hi, it’s Alise again! Like I mentioned in my introduction, my niche is reviewing books that I read as a child/teenager and sharing how they make me feel re-reading as an adult. So let’s get into it!
In the 11th grade I thought I hated my English teacher Mrs. Taylor. She was an older black lady, late 50’s/early 60’s, who was the epitome of the old-school no nonsense teacher. She did not play! This was secretly liberating though, being that she taught at a predominantly white school filled with bratty elitist kids. She would straight shut those kids down. Anyway, my love for her began when she assigned us to read “Mama Day”, by Gloria Naylor, introducing me to my favorite author.
What I loved about Mrs. Taylor was her “eff the curriculum” approach to teaching. She had been in the teaching game for 30 years so she could care less about anyone’s opinion about the reading material she assigned. At first I was intrigued to read a black author in school that was outside of the few very familiar authors we normally read. I loved reading as a kid, but school books never did it for me until this book.
A story with roots in Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Ms. Taylor made that connection for us, lol), Mama Day recounts the lives of Miranda, “Mama” Day, her sister Abigail, Abigail’s grown granddaughter, Ophelia (Cocoa), and her love affair and marriage to George. Told in the voice of George (from the grave), Cocoa’s voice, and a narrator’s voice, the novel explores the tragic past of Mama Day’s forebears as well as the present in which Mama Day functions as healer and wise woman of the small community of Willow Springs just off the coast of Georgia.
Never have I ever read a novel so richly fulfilling to the human soul, and to the human sense of what matters in life as “Mama Day.” It is an amazing love story, but on a different level than most. Gloria Naylor uses her normally powerful language to create a rich storyline that will captivate the readers.
In Mama Day, she combines love, magic, superstition, and sacrifice all into one cohesive plot loaded with strong, well-developed, distinct characters. She brings modern day ideas to the traditional residents of the island of Willow Springs, which makes for interesting reading.
This book brings together many extraordinary beliefs and instills the factors involved in having good strong family values. Mama Day is a wonderfully written book, mainly because you bond with the incredible characters all the way through to the amazing climax.
When first reading this book with good ol’ Ms. Taylor I entered into it resistant because I was not thrilled about reading another school book. However, my 17 year old mind was blown after a few pages. This book was written in a style I had not yet encountered so I was instantly drawn in. I had never gotten so invested in characters before, they all felt familiar. The thing I did not pick up on at such a young age was understanding why the characters made certain decisions. My sheltered mind did not understand the deep feelings of loss, true love, or even fear. Reading now, each character’s life choices make perfect sense to me. The book explores the human spirit in a way that only a seasoned adult can fully grasp, hence why this had to me my first review here. I learned that even through loss there can be tremendous gain. Also, that sometimes bad things just happen, and you just have to cope. Both valuable lessons to learn and to read about.
Gloria Naylor is my favorite author EVER, be sure to check out “Linden Hills, ” “Bailey’s Cafe”, and “The Women of Brewster Place.” You can also find me at poetry, love, & laughs