Friday, February 26, 2016

GUEST POST: Carolina Rose by Rafael Rivera

Carolina Rose by Rafael Rivera

Title: Carolina Rose
Author: Rafael Rivera
Genre: Family Saga, Coming of Age, Suspense
Length: 362
Release Date: February 5, 2016
ISBN: 978-1523605385
Imprint: Black Hawk
Synopsis: When Wilma, an innocent daughter of a well-known moonshiner of Cherokee Indian descent, tired of the mundane life in rural South Carolina ventures out with her girlfriend at the local bar, an unexpected encounter with Joe, a young and handsome Marine corporal on leave, spirals into a whirlwind romance, an intense family saga with tragic consequences ensue and family secrets exposed set the tone for this commercial fiction novel, Carolina Rose.

Read an except of the opening chapter of Rafael Rivera's Caroline Rose...

Another scorching South Carolina afternoon has passed. The heat and humidity inside the small, wooden shanty was too much for Donna to bear. In a far corner, an inefficient electric fan sits on a makeshift stand swaying back and forth in a monotonous and pendulous motion. The fan's dusty blades moved the balmy, hot air without relief. 
She became intolerant of her sticky, sweaty skin. Donna grabbed an old towel, went outside directly to the well, and pumped cool, refreshing water into a bucket. She cupped both hands, splashed her face several times, and patted her forehead and cheeks. At best, a temporary solution and relief from the heat. Then, she poured water over her arms to get rid of the sticky sweat. Again, she cupped more water with one hand and splashed her armpits. This time she cupped both hands together shaped like a bowl in order to drink the cool water, quenching her thirst. She refilled the bucket and with her eyes closed, dumped the entire bucket full of water over her head. A smile of contemplation and joy came over her face, the kind of smile seen on a small child eating an ice cream treat. 
Donna looked like a wet dog with all her hair in wet strands. Her thin blouse was stuck to her skin and her bra completely visible. Donna dried herself off with the towel as she walked back into the house and into her bedroom. She took off her wet clothes, dried herself again, and changed into a pair of shorts and sleeveless shirt. It was not a hard choice, which outfit to pick, since she had such a limited wardrobe. Inspecting her face for any signs of pimples and blemishes, she stared at herself in the mirror and moved her face from side to side. Satisfied with the results, she then applied red lipstick and brushed her hair almost obsessively. 
She applied makeup in order to attract male admirers at the local watering hole, a place she frequents on a regular basis and her respite from the mundane life of rural Orangeburg. The watering hole, called Lucky 8’s, is a roadside roughneck bar within walking distance of her house, a place where the many male patrons kept her in free drinks. 
On her way out the door, Donna yelled at her mother that she was going out, and proceeded to walk down the side of the dusty road in the direction of Lucky 8’s. As she walked, Donna saw a neighbor and a friend, a girl much younger than her. Wilma is Donna's only neighbor down this stretch of road. 
“Hey, Wilma!” 
“Hey, Donna!" Wilma replied as she waved her hand hello. 
"What are you up to? And, where are you going all dolled up? Got a hot date tonight?” Wilma asked with an inquisitive smile and look. 
“Hell no,” replied Donna. “Besides, there ain’t no boy in this stinking town that I'm interested in! Same guys from high school, rednecks, or married guys looking for a one night stand.” 
“I’m going to Lucky 8’s. There’s a band playing tonight from out of town. God knows it’s better than staying in that tin can of a house. It’s hotter than a welder’s ass in there.” Donna wiped the beads of sweat off her forehead and between her visible cleavage. 
“Come on Wilma. Let’s go together. We can get in for free. I know the bouncer. You know Jimbo from the gas station. He moonlights there. He’s a little sweet on me.” 
“And, all we have to do is bat our eyes and smile pretty. All the guys will buy us beer all night long. Besides, they have a big fan inside so we can cool off.” 
“Damn Donna, I’m only sixteen and I know that you ain’t legal yet.” 
“Who cares? There’s nothing else to do in this shit hole of a town on a Friday night.” 
“Ok,” replied Wilma. “Are you sure we can get in?” 
“Hell, yes! Just follow my lead.” 
Walking through the rows of pickup trucks parked on the unpaved, red clay lot, Wilma and Donna approached the front entrance of Lucky 8’s. 
“There’s Jimbo over there. We’re in luck, no line! We can get in easy.” 
“Hey, Jimbo.” Donna smiled like a Cheshire cat and performed a southern curtsy. 
“How are you doing tonight?” 
“I’m great now that you two fine ladies are here. You two here to listen to the band?” 
“Yeah,” Donna replied. “But we have a little problem. We're a little short on cash tonight...” 
Jimbo rubbed his chin while chewing on a slug of tobacco. “What the hell, just go on in. What are friends for? And, do me a favor, don’t tell anyone you two didn’t pay the cover charge.” 
“Ok,” they replied. 
“You know the manager will have my balls,” he quipped while simultaneously grabbing his crotch with his right hand. 
Donna turned around with her big smile and zippered her lips shut with an imaginary lock at the end of her lips and threw away the key. “By the way, Thanks. I’ll save a dance for you.” Jimbo chuckled and under his breath said, "Yeah, right!" 
The pair entered the smoke filled honky-tonk usually frequented by truckers, rough necks, and the local hell-raisers. Donna turned to Wilma and said, discretely, “Hey, there’s new blood in town tonight.” 
As they walked by, both women turned some heads, noticed immediately by the male patrons, especially by a young Marine corporal in dress blues and shiny brass. He was spit shined from head to toe. 
Wilma noticed the corporal's approving smile. Donna whispered in Wilma’s ear, “new blood in town!” Then, she laughed. “He seems to have fancied you right off. Let him make the first move. Let’s sit over there so your Marine admirer doesn’t have far to walk.” Wilma and Donna sat at a table close to the young Marine, chatting idly, smiling, giggling to each other in low voices. 
Almost immediately the locals made their presence known by offering to buy drinks and spouting corny pick up lines. The young corporal, the one the girls had taken seats near stood up and walked over to their table. 
“Hello, my name is Joe. Joe McCloud. May I sit join you ladies?” 
Almost in unison, both girls blurted out, “sure!” 
Joe pulled out the chair, sat comfortably, and signaled the bar maid to come over. 
“My name is Donna and this is Wilma.” Joe nodded his head, acknowledging both of them with a large smile. Both of the girls were impressed that he had a full set of teeth. 
“Where are you from?” 
“I’m from Columbia.” 
“Just passing through these parts or did you come to hear the band play?” 
“Neither,” Joe expressed. “I’m waiting on a friend. We're both on leave. We just got back from Okinawa.” 
“Oh, so you’re war heroes?” 
“I wouldn’t say that. We’re just lean, mean, green, well-trained killing machines.” Joe with a slight chuckle amused by his own self-description. He raised the empty beer mug in his hand, as if toasting himself. 
“And, you’re modest, too. Hmm, a silver-tongued devil.” Donna laughed at her comment since she was good with playful, verbal judo. Donna was aware that Wilma was shy and her way of breaking the ice. 
“So Joe, what’s your friend’s name?” 
“Sam Skeeter. You know him? He’s from Orangeburg. He's visiting his parents here, but he should be here soon.” 
“I remember a boy named Skeet from high school. He played on the football team. Is he a redhead, with freckles, slight over bite?” 
“Yeah, that's him,” replied Joe. 
“Speak of the devil. Your friend walked through the door.” 
The bar maid approached their table. “What would you all like to drink?” 
Joe stated, “We’ll start off with a pitcher of Miller.” 
Joe waved at Skeet. Skeet returned the wave and moved his way through the crowd as if negotiating a minefield. 
Joe stood up, shook hands with Skeet, and introduced him to the girls.

Rafael Rivera on the Idea Behind Carolina Rose

The creation of Carolina Rose was a long process. An enormous amount of research was performed in order to match the novel’s timetable with the same timetable of actual and historical events. For example, when Eight Ball warns Grandpa to be careful because the brothers are still upset about the Orangeburg Massacre months before, the time frame of Grandpa’s incarceration was exactly months after the actual real event massacre took place. The novel is embedded with many of these historical facts.
Some facts are well known while others are obscure and many will say it gives South Carolina a black eye. For instance, many have heard and read about the Kent State University Massacre. I did in history class. But, how many have ever heard about the Orangeburg Massacre?
However, it is the truth, and sometimes the truth is best kept under the rug to avoid embarrassment. On the other hand, there are facts and places that make South Carolina attractive to tourists. Places like the Edisto River, Lake Murray, Edisto Memorial Gardens are tourist attractions. I chose to include real events to give the story a sense of realism, to engage the reader to want more, and most importantly for the reader to read the novel without yawning.
The novel is written using Southern colloquialism and jargon indicative of the specific era in which the novel takes place. You would not expect a dirt farmer with a 6th grade education to speak or write like a Harvard graduate and vice-versa. Jeff Foxworthy would not be comical if he did not use his Southern drawl in spoofing rednecks. Until I lived in the South, when I was asked about grits, I thought they where asking about a grade of sandpaper and not about a corn grain.
One of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, gave me the inspiration and idea to use realism. I am not Mark Twain, by no means. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain used realism effectively.
Many of the places talked about in the novel are real. One such place is Dukes Bar-B-Que in Orangeburg. I personally ate there with my ex girlfriend, who is a native of Orangeburg. I do have to say that “they have “darn” good BBQ!”
Many chapters were written based on my personal experience and knowledge in the Marine Corps and being a registered nurse and respiratory therapist. So those chapters were easier to write and compile. While others took a long time to write in order to make the characters real and interact with the other characters in a manner that kept the story going in the direction I had outlined.
Humor is included to give the reader a chuckle here and there. The use of metaphors adds to the humor. Foreshadowing makes you think about events that may happen in the future.
The novel has an underdog who may or may not come out on top. Many antagonists exist and poetic justice seems almost impossible. You have to read the book to find out. 
Rafael Rivera on the Characters of Carolina Rose
The theme for Carolina Rose is centered on roses. Rose is a flower and also the name of one of the main characters in the story. A red rose symbolizes love. Wilma was fascinated by the number of types and colors of roses in the Edisto Memorial Gardens. So naturally, Wilma named her daughter Rose.
A rose has a thorny stem to protect it from insects. Rose has a thorny stem exterior disguised as amnesia. The amnesia shelters and protects Rose from the traumatic events that almost caused her death. Also, the amnesia is her coping mechanism to hide the truth about who her attacker really is. Rose’s life is portrayed from her conception, birth, and maturation into a strong and determined adult female. Rose is goal oriented and has a deep sense of justice which drives her to seek revenge with an eye for eye mentality.
Wilma, Rose’s mother, is a young and innocent woman with only a 6th grade education. She is stuck in the poverty cycle prevalent in rural South Carolina and is widowed at an early age. Now a single mother, she becomes dependent on her parents for support. And, all are living in a small sharecropper’s shack. She is the epitome of the extremes that a mother will go to protect her child from danger. Wilma fell victim and trapped in an abusive relationship which she endured many trials and tribulations until she snapped.
Grandpa, a pivotal character in this story, is Rose’s grandfather and her only male role model. He is a full-blooded Cherokee Indian who teaches Rose many skills that she will find useful later on in life, skills that will enable her to compete in a male dominated world. He is by nature a quiet and low key individual. Dirt farmer by trade, he subsidizes his meager income by making moonshine. His special skill is envied by other moonshiners. When he makes his batches, he is like a scientist in a laboratory with meticulous precision.
Donna is Wilma’s neighbor and friend from down the road. She is slightly older than Wilma and a free spirit. Donna is witty, adventurous, and tomboyish.
Joe, Wilma’s husband, is a young and dashing Marine corporal. He is driven by a deep sense of honor, but rebellious against his overbearing mother. He is smitten by Wilma’s innocence and falls in love with her almost instantly. Deployment to Vietnam, creates many hardships in their relationship, but their commitment to each other overcome their difficulties. Joe comes from a privileged background and shuns a privileged life style to escape his mother’s control.
Calhoun, Joe’s twin brother, is a well educated Vanderbilt graduate. He is an aspiring politician and the middle man between his mother and brother. Calhoun has a close relationship with Joe, but does not take sides. He only tries to mediate their differences as any politician would do. He never marries and everyone speculates if it is because he was jilted by a previous lover or that he is covering up a deeper secret that could possibly ruin his career.
Katherine, Joe and Calhoun’s mother, is an overbearing matriarch who is vindictive when her wishes are not honored. Her only interests are power, wealth and status. Katherine has a nebulous past and whispers about her husband’s suicide still circle around the country club elites. The rumor that Katherine might have actually killed her husband and staged it as a suicide has been the gossip for years. Katherine is the updated and older version of Scarlett O’Hara.
Jeb, local bar owner and one of Grandpa’s moonshine client, is under constant ATF surveillance and a career criminal. When push comes to shove, he will do anything to avoid going to jail.
Bubba, Wilma’s 2nd husband and Rose’s stepfather, is a long haul truck driver who thinks he is a casa nova. He is a typical redneck bully with an obnoxious loud mouth and braggart. Bubba is a sore loser when gambling and has a diabolical secret that he has been able to maintain for decades. As an angry drunk, he likes to pick fights to prove his manhood and eventually he gets an unexpected whoop ass.
Warden Wilson, warden for CCI, is an entrepreneur with many side line deals. On the outside, he appears refined in his tailored suits, but uses the prisoners at CCI to attain his financial goals. With his influence, he takes a special interest in Grandpa’s moonshine making skills and requests that he be incarcerated at CCI.
Eight Ball, prison cook at CCI, is serving a life sentence for murder. He killed three Caucasian men in self defense, but an all white jury found him guilty. He is a victim of the social injustices of that time. Eight Ball befriends Grandpa and an ironic relationship develops between them.
Jimbo, a bouncer at Lucky 8’s, is Donna’s friend and often does not charge her the cover charge to enter.
Ruth, a socialite, was Calhoun’s ex-girlfriend. Rumor is that she broke Calhoun’s heart when she married a bank executive. Ruth was the woman that Katherine chose for Calhoun to marry. The fact that she married another man was Calhoun’s salvation or was he really heart broken?
Author Bio: Mr. Rivera is a registered nurse and registered respiratory therapist. He is an alumni of Auburn University, Mercer University, Excelsior College and Ga. State University with MS Management, MS Health Care Adm, BS Nursing, BS Health Care Science and BS Building Construction degrees. He is a former US Marine reservist and grew up as a military brat with extensive travel overseas. 
His hobbies include shooting, martial arts (Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do, Aikido and Jiu Jistsu) and being an extra in movies and pilot series. He was an extra in the new TV series Complications on USA network.
Previous publications include: Men Can Be Neanderthals, Utilization of Just-In-Time Principles in the Construction Industry. Wrote two rap songs: Gangsta Wannabe (i tunes) and soon to be released Full Auto.
Carolina Rose is his first commercial fiction novel with two additional working titles and a non-fiction.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness: The Preparation Book Haul

I’ve been a Barnes and Noble member for years and recently found the benefit of using the member card online.  FREE SHIPPING!  Where have I been?  (Oh, I’ve been on Amazon where they upped their free shipping price margin.)  Nonetheless, with #MarchMysteryMadness coming up, I needed to stock books to fulfill the upcoming mystery reading challenges.  So those, and some books I've collected from a couple of used bookstores, are featured in this haul post.  Many are from familiar series I plan on tackling #MarchMysteryMadness with–furthering my excitement for the challenges next month.

1.       Finally got a copy of Burn Marks.  It's book six in Sara Paresky’s V. I. Warshawski private-eye, hard-boiled series.  Now I’ve passed this particular 3rd edition hardback many times at the used bookstore.  Until now.  It’s right where I’m at with the series, so I went ahead and grabbed it.  The book is in great condition.  For a 1990’s release, the pages are super clean and crisp.  All that aside, this one has got to be a winning chapter in the Warshawski series.  You see, another one of Warshawski’s distant relatives is coming back in the picture.  And she's all set to hire her niece to solve a murder.  (For more on my Sara Paretsky reviews, see the LABELS at the bottom of the post.)
The other three books will feature on my #MarchMysteryMadness TBR video...
4.      Blanche Among the Talented Tenth by Barbara Neely.  Blanche is back!  I've had the third book since forever, but since I have to read a series in order, it has sat on my shelf awaiting book two.  Until now!  A black, domestic housekeeper solving murders makes a boy's dreams come true! (Visit Barbara Neely LABEL below for my thoughts on the first book in the series.)
5.       I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, book four in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.  YAY! It's finally in my hands!  Bookstore after bookstore I’ve searched, after reading The Red Herring Without Mustard [book three].  Actually, I would have to drive over the mountain to another Barnes & Noble in the valley to get a copy of this book.  Though I couldn’t see myself attempting so with a recently replaced crankshaft, and a cracked axle boot.  I feared my car wouldn’t pull the hill.  So I’ve ordered the book instead and can’t wait to continue with Flavia and her murder-solving mischief.  (For those unsure of what I’m even talking about, click the Alan Bradley LABEL below for all things de Luce.)

6.      The Goldfinch by Donna Tart.  Always, always wanted to give this book a go.  With all the acclaim and praise, it slammed onto my reading radar.  I was curious, and finally found this crisp copy for $4 at my public library’s bookstore.  With it in hand, I drew the attention of a staff member who stopped to gloat her love/hate relationship with the book.  This, naturally, fueled my excitement.
7.      No Rest for the Wiccan.  Another “I been to bookstore after bookstore” book.  Book four in Madelyn Alt’s Bewitching Mystery series required an online order as well.  I have a soft spot for this cozy mystery series about a witch solving local murders.  But I’ll digress for now.  (Click the Madelyn Alt LABEL for my thoughts on the previous book.)
8.      Two copies of Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles cozies.  That’s entry two [Witches’ Bane] and three [Hangman’s Root].  I’ve craved these hard-to-finds after discovering the first book while browsing the used bookstore.  And loved it.  (For my thoughts on the first book, click the Susan Wittig Albert LABEL below.)
Well, that’s it guys.  I’ve been hauling the hell out of books so far this year–and can’t wait to get into them all.  I have a copy of Buffy Season 10: Old Demons on the way also.  And in an attempt to use my Kindle more, I ordered/downloaded Marcia Muller’s Ask the Cards a Question.  It's book two in Muller’s Sharon McCone series.
So basically I’m back in my reading playground.  Cozies.  Female sleuths.  And murders.  With a splash of literature on the side.  Anyway, happy reading and all that jazz!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Quoting Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

As part of my series of Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl posts, I'd like to share my favorite quotes.  These are a few of the moments a sense of truth and/or emotion struck me.  Of course, out of the many residing in the narrative itself.
So on to the favorite quotes:
This one is the opening of Chapter VI, titled The Jealous Mistress.
“I would ten thousand times rather that my children should be half-starved paupers of Ireland than to be the most pampered among the slaves of America.  I would rather drudge out my life on a cotton plantation, till the grave opened to give me rest, than to live with an unprincipled master and a jealous mistress.  The felon’s home in a penitentiary is preferable.  He may repent, and turn from the error of his ways, and so find peace; but it is not so with a favorite slave.  She is not allowed to have any pride of character.  It is deemed a crime in her to wish to be virtuous.”
Slave narratives drive a sympathetic truth, and Jacobs’ opening gave ground to hers.  In the opening quote, she compares a slave's life to other demoralizing circumstances.  And how the latter appears more suitable.  Yet, she also draws a field slave’s existence to a slave caught by the lustful attention of her master.  And for good reason.  Jacobs’ autobiography reveals that level of oppressive torment in detail.  Beginning with her awareness of her bought morals.  Which she isn't willing to give up. 
Hopelessness charges her opening, but the sincerity and intelligence of Jacobs' voice says otherwise.
Further in Chapter VI
“Reader, I draw no imaginary pictures of southern homes.  I am telling you the plain truth.  Yet when victims make their escape from this wild beast of Slavery, northerners consent to act the part of bloodhounds, and hunt the poor fugitive back into his den, ‘full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.’  Nay, more, they are not only willing, but proud, to give their daughters in marriage to slaveholders.  The poor girls have romantic notions of a sunny clime, and of the flowering vines that all the year round shade a happy home.  To what disappointments are they destined!  The young wife soon learns that the husband in whose hands she has placed her happiness pays no regard to his marriage vows.  Children of every shade of complexion play with her own fair babies, and too well she knows that they are born unto him of his own household.  Jealousy and hatred enter the flowery home, and it is ravaged of its loveliness.”
It's all twisted.  The South wanted to impress Northerners on how useful and necessary slavery was.  Meanwhile, willing to put out a bounty on a runaway slave.  And one with illusions of finding asylum in the North.  Where they found themselves captured and returned by Northerners for profit.  Additionally, Northerners were sending their daughters south to marry slave owners, for the status.  And of course money.  Everyone was taking advantage of this system.  Jacobs wanted that illusion in itself to be 100% clear. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

LIFE: Did You Get a Hair Cut?

The things people say (or do) when you take on a whole new hair do...

#MarchMysteryMadness Challenge List

Goodreads Group: March Mystery Madness
~~~~~ The Food/Craft/Hobby Cozy~~~~~
1.       “It wasn’t the way that Hannah preferred to attract new clientele, but she had to admit that finding Ron’s body had been good for business.  The Cookie Jar was jam-packed with customers.  Some of them were even standing while they munched their cookies, and every one of them wanted her opinion on what happened to Ron LasSalle.”
Everybody has a craft–a hobby.  Whether it’s baking sugar cookies or crocheting Forget-Me-Not dollies.  Maybe even culturing herbs for organic dishes.  Or are you into nature photography and are a dedicated bibliophile?  Now imagine engaging with your day-to-day passions when a body suddenly crosses your path.  What would you do?  Do you have what it takes to balance your craft with solving murders?  Explore the possibilities by reading a cozy mystery with a food/craft/hobby theme.
~~~~~ The Get Christie Love Lead~~~~~
2.       “Finally, after all my procrastinating and avoiding Bessie’s calls, I was able to put the finishing touches on my report, explaining exactly how I had spent her money (I didn’t include the manicure), apologizing for what I hadn’t been able to find out, but pointing out that her involvement may have sparked the cops’ renewed interest in the case.  I included the name of the lawyer that Jake had given me as well as the contact for the program for Rayshawn.  I also warned her in strong language that Rayshawn had been on the verge of committing a serious felony and had some serious problems that had to be dealt with, and if she and Viola didn’t make sure he got help, I’d be forced to go to the authorities with information that would result in his arrest.”
Find and follow your inner Christie Love and Foxy Brown.  Read a mystery/crime fiction novel powered by an African (-American) female sleuth.  Or, from Tokyo to Seoul.  Shanghai to Kolkata.  Or even New York to Los Angles.  Read a mystery/crime fiction novel featuring a sleuth with an Eastern perspective on matters.  (In general, a book featuring a person of color taking lead.)
~~~~~ The Christie/Poe Complex~~~~~
3.      “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
“Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.”

Did you know Edgar Allan Poe did mystery and crime fiction before mystery and crime fiction were even a thing?  Let’s face it; he’s the godfather of the genre.  He’s the seed to this entire challenge.  Therefore, your challenge is simple: indulge in one or all three of Poe’s mystery shorts…
A.     The Murders in the Rue Morgue
B.     The Mystery of Marie Roget
C.     The Purloined Letter
Or how about the matriarch of mystery and crime fiction, Agatha Christie?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

#ReadSoulLit Jubilee by Margaret Walker

QUICK.  Get on Twitter and Youtube and search #ReadSoulLit!  You may be asking what does that mean–outside of its obvious nature.  However, as a quick explanation, many Booktubers are reading Jubliee by Margaret Walker during February.  For Black History Month of course!  I'll link to Booktuber, Frenchie at Brown Girl Reading's, video on the project HERE.  As for myself, I recently got my copy of the book.  I'm behind on the reading, but still wanted to share for those reading this post who would like to jump on board and participate.  That is all…

"Here is the classic--and true--story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress, a Southern Civil War heroine to rival Scarlett O'Hara. Vyry bears witness to the South's prewar opulence and its brutality, to its wartime ruin and the subsequent promise of Reconstruction. It is a story that Margaret Walker heard as a child from her grandmother, the real Vyry's daughter. The author spent thirty years researching the novel so that the world might know the intelligent, strong, and brave black woman called Vyry. The phenomenal acclaim this best-selling book has achieved from readers black and white, young and old, attests to her success."
~ Synopsis from 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl | Part One

"In what has become a landmark of American history and literature, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl recounts the incredible but true story of Harriet Jacobs, born a slave in North Carolina in 1813. Her tale gains its importance from her descriptions, in great and painful detail, of the sexual exploitation that daily haunted her life—and the life of every other black female slave. 
As a child, Harriet Jacobs remained blissfully unaware that she was a slave until the deaths of both her mother and a benevolent mistress exposed her to a sexually predatory master, Dr. Flint. Determined to escape, she spends seven years hidden away in a garret in her grandmother’s house, three feet high at its tallest point, with almost no air or light, and with only glimpses of her children to sustain her courage. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, she finally wins her battle for freedom by escaping to the North in 1842. 
A powerful, unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slave life, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl stands alongside Frederick Douglass’s classic autobiographies as one of the most significant slave narratives ever written."
~ From Goodreads

I tried to think up the right approach to writing my thoughts on Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  The multitude of topic threads available to weave seems… well… endless.  Should I even try to stretch each thread out, I don’t believe I’ll ever get anything sown.  Which will leave me further procrastinating the creation of a post.  Nonetheless, as a slave narrative/autobiography, the book takes readers through Jacob’s courageous experience growing up a slave in North Carolina.  Her intimate voice recounts years underneath the thumb of the obsessive and suffocating father of her adolescent owner.  (By rights and a will, Jacobs became the property of a young girl.)  As well as the complications she faces crafting (though severely daring and frightening) her escape to New York.  How she managed to survive her story is almost unbelievable.  Epic and mind-blowing–if you will.  I won't spoil it, but just the thought of her measures gives me phantom pains synonymous with osteoarthritis symptoms.  Still, given the era and desperation of our ancestors, I can picture and welcome such extremes clearly. 
As a slave narrative, Incidents serves the traditional makeup within this area of African-American literature.  The familiar conversations on abolitionism and humanitarianism takes much of the lead.  Followed shortly by the wind of Christian beliefs slaves shielded the violence and horror of racial oppression from.  Or attempted to, anyway.  On the same Christian token, it also give parallels to the religious hypocrisy slave owners proposed to reason with their actions.  (A disgusting thought that turns my stomach each time some slave owner attributes God’s will to shackling a race to harvest tobacco.)  Tie in the book’s footnotes illuminating historical facts/events; Incidents dances into each of the familiar slave narrative elements without missing a beat regarding its purpose.  

And yet, there’s something entirely different and unique about the book.  On the surface, it’s the story of the lengths an enslaved woman will take to hold on to her family in a world designed to rip her from them for profit.  Which is where the sympathetic edge to her slave narrative lie.  And I mention that because slave narratives’ primary focus was to create awareness, via the intimate streams of blunt and dark realities individuals faced within this grotesque system.  And Jacobs served on all fronts.
But so much aside, I really found Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl a critical and necessary read.  And one where I’d like to answer the discussion questions provided by the book in the third half of this post.  However, before, I want to add a few of my favorite quotes/passages in the second half.

PART THREE: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Discussion Questions

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