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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Song of Solomon

One of the best parts about doing my books-to-read-in-your-20s challenge is that I have finally been able to read things that I have always intended to read, but have not had a chance to pick up. Song of Solomon is one of those books! The only other Morrison I have read is The Bluest Eye, which I had a difficult time with. I think that is why it has taken me so long to pick up another Morrison – I was worried that I would not like it or that it would not live up to my expectations. However, Song of Solomon delivered. Needless to say, the world has been right about Morrison, and I am now caught up. It’s wonderful to read something that was published in the 70s and is still relevant.

Even though I finished this book last weekend, I’m still processing. Milkman, the central character grows up on the edge of everything – his father is a successful black man who owns rental properties, and his aunt’s family is extremely poor and are social outcasts of sorts. He is pulled into both worlds, and has to try to find where he fits and how. Milkman winds up on a journey that takes him across the country, giving the reader insight into race issues from the 30s to the 70s that cause you to think about how things are now. I had several “oh my god how is this still happening” moments.

I may come back to edit this entry later as I think and process more. I can’t wait to read more Morrison soon!