Review: The Good Negress
Possibly the biggest convention of western literature (if not worldwide) is that of the happy ending. For a writer to choose to not take the easy road and avoid “happily ever after” is an act of courage and reminder that despite all of our wishes, it just ain’t so.
Verdelle lays out a world that’s unfamiliar to a large portion of the population, that of the children of the Black Diaspora. The children left “down home” in the oppressive poverty that emphasizes contributing to the household over education, as their parents shift to the city to find stability rooted on a factory floor.
Sent to live with her Grandmother, Denise is taught the way of life her family has always lived. Small town farm country, tight communities, and unspoken barriers at every turn. When her mother decides the help of another pair of hands to help with a new baby outbalances the cost of keeping her, Denise is returned to the family she’s been idolizing for years.
She’s used to housekeeping, cooking, running a household. But with her introduction to formal education she has a glimpse of life beyond that drudgery. Dreams flourish, burn bright, but fade almost as quickly, as she comes to the understanding that at the end of the day, someone’s still got to feed the baby and pick the greens… and that someone is not going to be anyone else.
A beautiful portrait of the realities of a lost generation, and what disadvantage looks like.