Sunday, February 7, 2010

Children of The Waters: Love, Family and Reconciliation

We’re currently having a discussion about Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice at Color Online. It’s a story about a young, educated black woman who despite having Lupus has a pretty good life. Then her half-sister shows up and Billie discovers not only that she was adopted, but also that she’s half white. Now Billie is a sister who prides herself on been culturally and spiritually grounded. She is a sister who relishes her blackness. She is an African dance teaching, ancestor altar praising and holistic-living sister. Then she finds out she’s not who she thought she was.

Billie has a great family. She has proud, accomplished parents and a loving older brother. She’s involved with a good man and she’s just found out she’s pregnant. Her health is a real concern with her pregnancy and her great man doesn’t respond to the pregnancy like she had hoped. Then this chunky, too friendly, white woman shows up. And the drama begins.

Let me tell you what works for me in the contemporary fiction. The socioeconomic element works. I don’t think we talk enough about class and socioeconomics in this country. We try to have the race discussion but we rarely include how socioeconomics weighs in the mix. Brice inserts it without screaming LESSON. It would have been easy and predictably boring to have made Billie a poor black girl discovering she was rejected by her white wealthy family. Instead the main character is smart, educated, comes from a solid economic background and her family is happy and functional.

The dynamics between men and women in relationships works here. Brice gives us love that works. Nick’s parents’ relationship is ugly and Trish is divorced from a cheating husband but even her relationship with her son’s father had been good at one time. But these relationships don’t dominate the story. Billie’s parents and her brother’s marriages are solid and while Billie and Nick hit a rough patch, they work through it.

The conflict between Trish and Billie feels real. Their reunion is rocky. There is race and the rejection they have to confront and they do, and like in real life it’s not easy. The delivery works. The tone in Children of the Waters has the same comfortable and natural feel of Brice’s successful Orange Mint and Honey (watch Lifetime premier of the tv adapted movie 2/21)

What doesn’t work? I can’t say. I suggest you read the book, join the discussion and honestly tell us what worked and what concerned you. Let’s have a good sistergirl talk about what family, love and reconciliation looks like.


Anonymous said...

I've heard loads of good things about this book - of course it's checked out at my library. I am not always the biggest fan of contemporary fiction, but this looks so great! I will have to make an exception. :)

Jessie Carty said...

i'm fascinated by the concept. need to put it on my to read list :)