I completed Stand the Storm some days ago. It was a gentle, slow read the way I vaguely recall River, Cross My Heart, her first novel, as being. The story had a sense of being biographical in that it could have belonged to any African American…the characters were familiar, not endowed with any special traits that set them apart. They possessed a cultural trait of not wanting to be “torn asunder” and were the recipients of a series of blessings that enabled the family to rise. The blessings came in the form of opportunities that revealed each character’s personal strengths and weaknesses. For example, when Gabriel, a tailor, had to face the decision to spend his savings to save his sister’s adopted daughter, who never met with favor from Gabriel, to save her from being sold further south. Another example, when he wrestled with joining the USCT in the Civil War and leave his family; his aging mother, sister, and wife with 3 daughters behind to run the tailoring shop. It was a relaxing read.
I’m now reading Makeda by Randall Robinson. It is a novel and before this, I had no clue that he wrote fiction. I believe this is his 2nd novel. Makeda is the grandmother of Gray, whose story is being told. Makeda was blind from birth and a mystic. Gray gains self-confidence growing up by way of sitting with Makeda in her parlor sharing dreams and secrets.
I’m just at the point (about 20% from the beginning) where Gray, who is narrating the story from his literary pen, is going off to college in the early 60s. Much of the time while reading, I keep finding myself wishing that Mo and Ade would give this a read. Most of what I recommend to them only receives a condescending nod.