This book review has been a long time coming. I met the author online about 3 years ago on MySpace and soon after connected with her on Facebook. After about a year or so, I learned that she had been featured in Essence Magazine. So of course I googled her ('cause I'm nosy curious like that) and found out that she has received some impressive acclaim for her novels, Going Down South and Middle Sister. So I emailed her to congratulate her for all of her success, yada yada yada. I'm reviewing it today, a few months later than I had hoped to. Alas, here we are.
I've read Going Down South two and a half times already. After the first time, I hugged it. Remember the last time I hugged a book? I am a book hugger. But I reserve hugs only for the books that deeply resonate with me. Going Down South easily became one of my favorites. I am a sucker for novels set in the south--add to that a poignant coming of age story, family secrets, black people, forbidden love, racists and a trip back to a time before urban minority neighborhoods were plagued with poverty and violence and there was a healthy dose of shame attached to being pregnant in high school and I am a happy sucker.
Going Down South is a story about book-smart, 15-year old Olivia Jean, her beautiful, proud, sharp-tongued mother Daisy, and Daisy's no-nonsense mother, Birdie. Olivia Jean ends up pregnant (without even really understanding what sex is) and in order to keep Olivia's pregnancy a secret from friends and neighbors, Daisy decides to send her to live out her pregnancy and birth down south with Birdie. When they arrive, Birdie welcomes Olivia Jean, but will only allow her to stay there if Daisy stays too. Since the mother-daughter relationships between these women are far from warm and loving, their time together in the home where Daisy grew up is full of tension, growth and profound revelations.
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