by Connie Brisco – (Fawcett Books May 1999)
Reviewed by Stephanie Wright
During Naomi Jefferson’s childhood in Washington D. C. in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she was exposed to blatant racism only intermittently. Her father, a government worker, and her mother, a schoolteacher, were able to provide a comfortable life for Naomi and her brother Joshua, in a nice neighborhood. They had plenty of food and clothing and were even able to afford a new Buick at one time. Naomi seemed to be kind of sheltered from some of the effects of racism. Of course, she was occasionally witness to the hatred held toward people of color.
When she was verbally assaulted for being a black child, naturally it hurt and confused her. Why was it so wrong for her to be black instead of white? When she grew older she came to understand that people of color had to work harder than white people to achieve the same amount of success and to get a fraction of the reward.
While a teenager, Naomi’s cherished older brother, Joshua is killed while on his way to a civil rights rally. Convinced her brother was killed to silence one more voice in the cry for equality, and due to frustrations of having to endure hostile racism in the form of one of her college professors, Naomi begins down the long road of depression, and self destruction with drugs and bad relationships.
Eventually Naomi comes to the fork in the road where she has to decide what path she truly wants to follow. Should she stay on her current path and end up nothing or dead, or should she show everyone just what a black woman can do and how well she should do it?
This is an excellent novel for anyone to read. The author, Connie Brisco, follows Naomi’s life from young childhood to middle age, and she does so in a way that makes the reader feel real emotions for this girl and that make the reader urge her forward. If only the reader can smack this girl upside her head and show her the way.
The choices Naomi makes during the turbulent time of her teen years to her early twenties really do determine her life and successes and failures later in her life.