Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral

Hello!

This is my first blog post from my new house. This weekend I moved to Houghton, Michigan, and tomorrow I start my new job at Michigan Technological University. I am simultaneously excited and nervous. I spent today doing a few things around the house, reading, and thinking about how I should do this damn blog post that I have been saying I will do for weeks!

A few weeks ago I finished Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral by Jessie Redmon Fauset. This book was originally assigned for a class I took in college, but was cut from the book list when we ran out of time. In my American Lit class in graduate school, we had the opportunity to create our own book list to study any era of American Literature that appealed to us. I chose the Harlem Renaissance and loved it. I originally picked up Plum Bun back in February because I wanted to read something for Black History Month, and this is where I landed.

This book is about Angela Murray. As a young girl, she discovers she has the ability to pass as white. She learns this from her mother, who can also pass. Angela makes the decision to move to New York as a white woman. She believes that if she can get to New York she can start her life as a white woman with a certain level of privilege, find a white husband, and be set for life. She thinks that removing her blackness from the world will also remove her problems. This story follows Angela through her time in New York and examines her relationship with her sister, Jinny, who is not able to pass. Angela desperately desires to become and artists, and the characters she meets along the way are enjoyable and provide insight into her circumstances.

I liked this book, even though it took me forever to finish! It wasn’t one that I could fly through, and I found myself reading in small chunks. I did like Nella Larsen’s Passing better in terms of a text about passing. I enjoyed how long I was with Angela and how I got to see her live her daily life, not just a snippet of her experience.

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The Mothers

I finished The Mothers by Brit Bennett on New Years Eve, but had to wait to do a post because it was also someone’s Christmas gift (oops), and I had to send it to them.

I heard all of the hype about The Mothers on all kinds of podcasts and book recommendation lists over the past year. I completely understand why! It has been a long time since I devoured a book like this. I loved Nadia. She’s not perfect, she has regrets, but she also keeps moving forward.

Nadia is struggling with her mother’s suicide and her relationships. She is angry. She falls for the pastor’s son, and Nadia finds herself in a situation where she has to make decisions on her own, and without support. This decision stays with her and impacts her decisions for years.

I loved the gossipy group of the church Mothers who narrate this book like a Greek Chorus. Pick this one up if you haven’t yet!

 

Love Her Madly

I’m still blogging about my vacation reads from one month ago! I need to get these done and get reading!

Lover Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee is about two girls who quickly become best friends in college. They are drastically different – Cyn introduces Glo to a world of drugs and care-free living, and Cyn accepts Glo as she is. They fall for the same guy, and the situation explodes while they are on a trip together in Costa Rica. After one night of partying Cyn disappears.

I had mixed feelings about this book. Working in Higher Education, I always have an interested in fiction set on campus or about relationships between college students – it’s exciting to watch them grow, figure out who they are, and learn about others around them. However, I did not like Cyn. I found her manipulative and extremely frustrating. I also found parts of the story over the top and unrealistic. However, I really liked the writing and Cyn didn’t annoy me enough to put the book down (probably because I was waiting for Glo to get rid of her!), and once the mystery of Cyn’s disappearance picked up, I was hooked.

Happy Reading!