The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois
Author: Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Fourth Estate (HarperCollins)
Publication Date: September 5th 2021
Synopsis of The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois (Goodreads)
An Oprah’s Book Club Selection
A New York Times Notable Book (2021)
“This sweeping, brilliant and beautiful narrative is at once a love song to Black girlhood, family, history, joy, pain…and so much more. In Jeffers’ deft hands, the story of race and love in America becomes the great American novel.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone and Another Brooklyn
The 2020 National Book Award–nominated poet makes her fiction debut with this magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era.
The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders.
Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.
To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.
My Thoughts on The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois
How do I even begin reviewing this book?
The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois is a book that is 800 pages long and still it felt short.
This book has such a spontaneous storytelling that you will wish this book was a bit longer.
This book is brimmed with very important topics of identity, slavery, race, love, family, history, abuse, child molestation, substance abuse.
This book accounts the multigenerational life history of a particular African family. Told in dual timeline- one timeline is of the past that started with the ancestors and the present timeline is about the Garfield family, an African American family.
Initially I thought the both timelines weren’t related but by the end I was just marveling at the author at how she connected the two timelines. I love books like this where the timelines don’t seem related but by the end, they form a complete circle. It is one of the most satisfying things ever.
Ailey is the main protagonist in the present timeline and she is a fierce woman. She is flawed and make questionable decisions, but she is unapologetically herself and she truly shows by the end of the book how far she is willing to go for her race and family. She deals with a lot in this book, from grief to abuse, but she turns out to be one strong heroine.
I loved and cared for all the characters (except Samuel, he can rot in hell) but my favorite character would be Uncle Root. He is an old, old man but he is sassy and stands up for his family and his race.
There is a lot to learn from this book. This book shows us how brutally the native African people were treated and how they still face discrimination. This book provides a space for discussions.
No matter what I write, I know I will fall short of describing what a marvel this book is! A literary gem. A must read. Do not be intimidates by its size because trust me, you will wish for another 800 pages.
This book is highly engaging and I will recommend this book to everyone. I can see this book becoming a classic one day.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Have you checked out my review for The Heart Principle yet?