Nubian Circle Book Club

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Sapphire's Grave Book Review

Reviewed by Phyllis Rhodes

Moving and Poignant!


Sapphire's Grave is a moving and poignant debut novel by Hilda Gurley-Highgate. The author transcends two centuries to reveal the foundation of a family -- an African captive called Sapphire because of her beautiful blue-black skin tone.  Her physical statue and dauntless attitude commands a semblance of respect from everyone, including her enslavers.  Sapphire remains strong, defiant, and unbroken despite the horrors of the Middle Passage, systematic rape, physical beatings, and back-breaking slave labor. So daring is she that immediately following a brutal act of sexual abuse at the hands of her owner who promises to do the same to her infant daughter when she is of age, Sapphire kills her daughter rather than allow the child to suffer the same fate she herself has endured. 


At death, Sapphire is hastily buried in a shallow grave, but her tormented soul cannot rest.  In spirit form, she approaches each of her female descendents and evokes memories and visions for them to discover, awaken, and use their inherent inner strength to love themselves, gain self-respect, and obtain inner peace to survive in a cruel and difficult world.  For the next two hundred years, Sapphire touches the bewitched Sister, the prostitute Vyda Rose, the lovelorn Jewel, the artistic Clovey, and truth-telling, outspoken, shameless Raeven who embodies Sapphire's spirit completely and thus allows Sapphire to return to the grave satisfied and fulfilled.


The author writes in a thoughtful, lyrical prose which educes a myriad of emotions and reader empathy for the characters.  Gurley-Highgate offers the reader an introspective look inside the lives and minds of the lead characters and their lovers.  She clearly illustrates how Sapphires spirit changes, fortifies, and empowers her daughters regardless of their station in life.  There is a valuable lesson in this book for all women regardless of race and/or socio-economic class.


So touching and well written that this book has earned a place on my best reads list.  Bravo, Ms. Gurley-Highgate!  A job well done...I cannot wait until the next release.

The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for Sapphire's Grave is 4.5 out of 5 stars. We welcome your comments and thoughts about this book review.  Please e-mail us at: