A dynamic, heartbreaking novel narrated by 13 year old Tangy Mae. The setting of this book takes place in 1958 with the Quinn family which includes, Tangy Mae a black girl who lives with her mother, Rosie in rural Parkersfield, Georgia. At the start of the novel, Rozelle, "Rosie" is quitting her job and goes home, telling anyone who will listen that she is dying. Rosie nine children don't believe her, however, they would never dare to tell her so. Rosie continues with the farce that she is dying, instead of admitting to everyone around her that she is pregnant with her 10th child. Now that Rosie is pregnant, someone will have to bring in extra income. Rosie wants Tangy Mae to quit school and take a job as a maid. Tangy Mae, the brightest of the Quinn children, is determined to finish school and will do anything to graduate from high school.
Rosie who is so light skinned, she can pass for white, categorizes her children by race; White, Indian and Negroes. Tangy Mae being the darkest, is treated the worst. Often believing she is unlovable, Tangy Mae is self-conscious and feels guilty at times for wanting what little bit of happiness others find around her. Despite what Rosie does to her children, they generally return home, if not to help Rosie, for fear of the rage she might inflict on the younger siblings. The poverty the Quinn's live in, could easily be their main oppression, but at the core, it's Rosie's apathy and abuse towards her children that is the central detrimental force. This novel is gritty, graphic and in your face. Delores Phillips, does not hold back. The central themes of oppression, poverty, mental illness, racism and familial love effectively resonates throughout the book.
This novel is the definition of a dysfunctional family. A band of siblings, bound by love for each other, that they would endure at all cost to keep each other safe, while struggling with the desire to be free from a mother who is wrestling with her own demons. A powerhouse of emotions, readers will laugh, smile and at many times want to choke the living daylights out of Rosie.
**** 4 STAR
Great Quotes/Excerpts from "The Darkest Child"
"She took pleasure in categorizing her children by race. Mushy, Harvey, Sam, and Martha jean were her white children. Tarabelle, Wallace, and Laura were Indians-Cherokee, no less. Edna and I were Negroes."