First things first, I give this book 2 snaps, no twirl, and no pivot. That’s not due to the writing or the plot. I just can’t really get with books that aren’t linear. It’s written in a way that jumps back and forth between freedom time and slavery time. Don’t get me wrong it’s clear each time which setting you are in when reading, however, it’s just not my cup of tea.
Now let’s get into the book itself. I stan Afia Atakora and her writing. It is clear, concise, and full imagery. You are immediately transported to the time and place of her choosing. You see what the characters see, smell what the smell, and feel what they feel.
The book is about 2 women, Miss May Belle and daughter Rue. They reside on land that is owned by their Marse Charles during slavery time. Now the war has ended and they are free. Miss May Belle and Rue are both healers in their own right. Using the land and their knowledge they are seen to some in the town as helpers and to others as witches. After Rue’s mother passes away, she steps in as the town’s midwife and healer. However, soon the love turns to hate. One character states the following in the story:
“Because just as easy as folks praise came, it could turn to hating. Magic and faith were fickle. Life and living were fickle.”
Especially after an illness comes in and targets children. Despite Rue’s efforts, some children pass away. Desperate for a change the town welcomes Bruh Abel with open arms. He’s a pastor with power to heal, so they think, and some know. I find that Bruh Abel was a man like every other man. He merely provided hope and was able to give people peace and comfort. Rue herself found comfort in him. I won’t say too much more about what happens with them, but you could guess and wouldn’t be too far off.
As I read this book, I felt the weight of secrecy and knowledge. The burden of knowing the unknown was one that was made clear to me through the text. In the end all the relationships just seemed to be seeking some sort of balance, understanding, less knowing.
I’ve done a few blog posts now on books that I’ve read and I’m always unsure of what to share and what not to share. How do you give a summary without giving away the plot or the ending? Hopefully, you have an idea/gist for what the book is about.
I do think this book is worth a read, however be advised….TRIGGER WARNING: rape, lynching, loss of child, and castration
Let Your Conjure Woman Light Shine!