These books arrived in my mailbox last week:
Gal by Ruthie Bolton:
From Kirkus Reviews
A young African-American woman born and raised in Charleston, SC, movingly relates in unsparing detail her struggle to overcome a legacy of abuse and neglect. Choosing to write under a pseudonym to protect her family, the author showed her manuscript to another Charlestonian, novelist Josephine Humphreys (The Fireman's Fair, 1991), who describes in the foreword how she suggested that the story would be better told in the old Southern way--orally. And this they did, with Humphreys taping and transcribing each session. Born in 1961, when her mother was only 13, Ruthie was raised by her grandmother and Clovis Fleetwood, the man she called Grand-Daddy, in the Hungry Neck section of Charleston. Though shabby and rundown, it was a place of special pride to local African-Americans, who have owned land there for more than a century. Fleetwood, who gave Ruthie the nickname ``Gal,'' enjoyed an honorable naval career, winning numerous awards and achieving the rank of chief petty officer, but off duty he was a sadistic monster. He beat Ruthie's grandmother to death in front of her, punished minor infractions with savage beatings or humiliating punishments, and though he spent money freely on drink and other women, he refused to provide the girl and her sisters and young aunts with proper clothing or adequate food. Ruthie developed a stutter, began to steal, and as she grew older smoked dope and drank. ``I was evil as a child,'' she confesses, ``but I was evil because I was being treated evil.'' Her despair-fed anger and self- destructive behavior finally ended when she met Ray Bolton and his affectionate kin, who showed her that some families, unlike her own, could truly give love. An inspiring journey of a contemporary pilgrim who, beset by all the worst demons, learned to love and forgive. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Who Do You Think You Are? by Alyse Myers:
After her mother's death, Alyse Myers covets only one thing: a wooden box that sits in the back of a closet. Its contents have been kept from her for her entire life. When she was thirteen years old her mother promised she could have the box, "when I'm dead. In fact, it'll be my present to you."
Growing up in Queens in the 1960s and '70s, Alyse always yearned for more in life, while her mother settled for an unhappy marriage, an unsatisfying job, and ultimately a joyless existence. Her father drifts in and out of their home. There are harrowing fights, abject cruelty, and endless uncertainty. Throughout her childhood Alyse adamantly rejects everything about her mother's lifestyle, leaving her mother to ask "Who do you think you are?"A personal portrait of a mother and daughter, Who Do You Think You Are? explores the profound and poignant revelations that so often can come to light only after a parent has died. Balancing childhood memories with adult observations, Alyse Myers creates a riveting and deeply moving narrative.
What was in YOUR mailbox last week?