Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Celestial’s Blue Skies –
Maggie Collins

 This is a fictional story set in the Bayou of Louisiana in 1989. Picture, country gravel, unpaved roads. It’s a one traffic light town set in Bell Place, Louisiana by the Bayou. My sister-girls and I could have been bred and raised in Bell Place, USA. Belle Place can be any fictional city in the South. Some of the major players include Maymay, the Bastille matriarch, married to T-Man. T-Red, the only son of Maymay and T-Man. Tut (Theresa Bastille), the only daughter of the Bastilles. In the African American culture we come up with nicknames for ourselves and that of our children. Our grand-parents were quick to give a child a nickname that way when you entered the room you did not know who they were talking about on the telephone. The life of Celeste and her family was the message of this novel. Looking at life from your children’s viewpoint brings insights overlooked for a mother trying to grind life in 24 hours and trying to survive with shelter, safety and food on the table. Issues addressed include racism within classes of women, the bayou with sugar cane stalks and surrounding community. Working the stalks, living around the stalks and finding love within the stalks. This novel was a page turner and held my attention because I wanted to know what was going to happen in the storyline. It was a realistic storyline set in everyday African-American families trying to rise out of poverty. My favorite character was Celeste’s mother, Tut. Tut is called “simple” by family and town members. Tut is the mother of Celeste and three other children. Tut is twenty four. Her mother called her “nasty, sinful and disgusting because she was sleeping with any man. She was labeled as the town whore. With hair down her waste she said that “Diana Ross stole her lyrics to “Upside Down.” Everybody says “Tut is known for her cutting up and acting up” therefore her brother T-Red instills the fear of God in her. Maymay once said “Tut, came into the world like “the soft winds in the Belle Place.” Tut, could be anyone’s best friend with a childlike quality in a woman’s body. The moral of this story is that often time’s family is all we have. “We all we got.” How we loved on each other, speak to each other resonates when God calls us home. Although Celeste is raised by the village, she none the less pushes her pain deep down inside of herself in regards to her mother’s behavior or lack of time to spend with her daughter. Celeste once said of her mother, that “Mama can’t change who she is, and we are who we are.” Each character’s presentation could become the sequel novel. I was so riveted I wanted to know what happens in the end. This was quite the page turner. I gave this novel a 4.5 because it was an excellent read. It was a summer breeze on a cold winter’s night. I recommend this book to book clubs to read amongst sister-girls to dissect and come up with a viable series of questions. A young lady trying to find her way in life would love the beauty of growing up around a family that guards their own. After completing this book I would read other books by this author.

Marilyn G. Diamond, a Sankofa Literacy Society and Delphine Publications Reviewer began reading at an early age and continued through college reading Harlequin novels. Books became as an escape mechanism for her while growing up in Brooklyn, New York. While working full-time Ms. Diamond raised three boys and other neighborhood children with a strict demeanor insisting on finishing homework and visiting libraries as positive incentives. After finishing college in Central New York, weather and medical issues bore down on Ms. Diamond, causing her to relocate. She now resides in South Carolina, where she is not only a book reviewer, but also a Published Author. Ms. Diamond took part in the Motherhood Diaries Anthology published by Simon and Shuster under ReShonda Tate Billengsley in 2013. “Having always maintained a journal there was always a desire to write. “As a reviewer she takes her occupation to heart. You can find this grand-mother, reading and reviewing various literature alongside starting a book club and inspiring the upcoming generations.


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