Nubian Circle Book Club

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daughter Book Review

Phyllis Rhodes

Heed The Message!!

asha bandele's sophomore release, "daughter" is a fictional testament to mothers who set high expectations and raise their daughters with a set of "rules" to follow without question or explanation.  With each generation, mothers hope and pray that their daughters will avoid the pitfalls of love and life as a (black) woman in a mans world.  However, this book explores the flip side from the perspective of a prim and proper mother and how she came to be; better yet, that of a grieving mother who loses her daughter too soon and wallows in regrets of all the things she never shared with her child.

Miriam Rivers is called to the hospital to identify the body of her nineteen-year-old daughter, Aya, who was gunned down by police in a case of mistaken identity.  Miriam's heart has always been in the right place and has truly tried to live right and do the right thing by her daughter.  However, she failed to give Aya the affection and attention she craved.  She never answered Aya's questions about her father or her grandparents and other family members.  What Aya never realized was that Miriam was more like her than she could have ever imagined.  Aya was just as smothered by "the rules" as Miriam was when she was a teenager. Miriam's carefree, loving spirit has been stifled for so long by circumstances beyond her control.

Raised in an elitist household, sixteen-year-old Miriam rebels, runs away with nineteen-year-old Vietnam veteran, Bird, and becomes pregnant soon thereafter. Her parents, embarrassed by Miriam's behavior, disowns her and leaves town without telling her. Bird is unable to find work and is constantly harassed by the police; his frustrations make their way into their makeshift home and causes a wedge between the lovers. Tragedy strikes and Miriam is left alone to raise baby Aya. She resorts back to the "rules" where she finds safety, familiarity, a margin of redemption, and a semblance of solace.

The author, asha bandele, is a staff writer and editor for Essence Magazine, and author of the best-selling memoir, "The Prisoner's Wife," This book is well written with lyrical language and expert handling of flashback episodes. It is filled with themes of lost loves and frustrations of men who are beaten down by racial inequality, police brutality, economic oppression, and the women who stand by them and lose themselves in the struggle.  It will cause women everywhere to rethink their positions as wives, mothers, and daughters and become lovers of themselves in the spirit that Miriam and Aya embrace and the same one that Sonia Sanchez referenced when she wrote, "I shall be a collector of me.  "daughter" is highly recommended though it maybe a bit too introspective and/or slow paced for some readers.

The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for daughter: a novel  is 4 stars out of 5 stars.