The Darkest Child

The Darkest Child

Book - 2004
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Random House, Inc.
“Evil’s regenerative powers and one girl’s fierce resistance. . . . A book that deserves a wide audience.”—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Filled with grand plot events and clearly identifiable villains and victims . . . lush with detail and captivating with its story of racial tension and family violence.”—The Washington Post Book World

“[An] exceptional debut novel. . . . [Has] a depth and dimension not often characteristic of a first novel.”—Library Journal (starred)

“Phillips writes with a no-nonsense elegance. . . . As a vision of African-American life, The Darkest Child is one of the harshest novels to arrive in many years. . . . [Phillips] buttresses those harsh episodes with a depth of characterization worthy of Chekhov, pitch-perfect dialogue, and a profound knowledge of the segregated South in the ’50s.”—The New Leader

Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white. Her ten children are mostly light, too. They constitute the only world she rules and controls. Her power over them is all she has in an otherwise cruel and uncaring universe.

Rozelle favors her light-skinned kids, but Tangy Mae, 13, her darkest-complected child, is the brightest. She desperately wants to continue with her education. Her mother, however, has other plans. Rozelle wants her daughter to work cleaning houses for whites, like she does, and accompany her to the “Farmhouse,” where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Tangy Mae, she’s decided, is of age.

This is the story from an era when life’s possibilities for an African-American were unimaginably different.

Delores Phillips was born in Bartow County, Georgia in 1950, the second of four children. She graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor of arts in English and works as a nurse at a state psychiatric hospital. Her work has appeared in Jean’s Journal, Black Times, and The Crisis. She has lived in Cleveland, Ohio since 1964.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Baker & Taylor
Fourteen-year-old Tangy Mae tells of the brutal physical and mental abuse that her mother inflicts on her and her ten siblings.

Blackwell North Amer
Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white. Her ten children are mostly light, too. Everyone in the small Georgia town in which she lives knows that they have different fathers. She favors her light children, but it is Tangy Mae, the darkest of them all, who is the brightest and the only one desperate to get an education. Even in rural Pakersfield they have heard of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, though they are in no hurry to comply with it.
Rozelle wants thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae to take over her jobs: days, doing house cleaning for whites; nights, servicing men, white and black, at the "Farmhouse." And Rozelle is not a woman whose commands can lightly be ignored. She is a creature of moods, possessive of all her children, desperate for their love, demanding of utter loyalty and obedience, harshly repressive of any signs of independence. They are the only thing in her life that she can control.
The Darkest Child shows us a world misshapen by years of oppression in which family is powerful yet offers little kindness or comfort. It shows us a world in which attitudes of prejudice have been adopted by its victim, and the resulting struggle of those who are darker complected is a struggle not only against outsiders, but against the closest of kin.

Publisher: New York : Soho Press, c2004
ISBN: 9781569473450
Characteristics: 387 p. ; 22 cm


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Nov 26, 2018

I enjoyed this book but it was heart wrenching in some ways too because I think that this stuff happened to a lot of black folk back then. The way they were treated was just inhumane...the author did a great job portraying every character, and I wish she had been able to finish her sequel.

Mar 25, 2018

Tangy is the daughter of a light-colored mother who has fathered several children, each with a different father. Although no longer wanting to serve as a maid in a white family’s house, she forces Tangy and her older sister into prostitution to support their brothers and sisters. Filled with sadness most often caused by the mother’s insanity, Tangy still hopes she will graduate from high school and find a peaceful life for her and her younger sisters. Poignantly written, this story shows how determination and stubbornness help people survive in a life in which they have no control.

Mar 15, 2018

Another book where the jacket summary was misleading. I thought this book was going to be about a black child trying to make her way through a white school during 1950's integration. Nope, not one bit. Instead, it was a sad and depressing story of 10 dirt poor siblings who were ill cared for and abused by their mentally unstable mother. It is well written so that the reader feels every bit of the cruelty, pain and sadness these children suffer through. There are many colorful and memorable characters that you won't soon forget. But due to what a difficult book this is to read, I can't really recommend it to others.

Apr 07, 2015

One word sums this book up-outstanding. A brilliant and at times disturbing read. It is the story of a poor black family in rural Georgia in the fifties, with all the racism and discrimination that prevailed then. It is told through the eyes of Tangy , who is around 14 at the time. She longs to get away from the abusive drunken mother and wants something better for herself but is stymied in her attempts through the families situation.

Mar 08, 2015

Ms. Phillips wrote from a place both true and raw. Unbelievable she is a first time writer! Many are longing for the sequel. I will not be surprised to see this book transferred to the big screen.

madison382 Apr 25, 2014

The author is an excellent writer, however I found the subject matter to be very troubling. It was too graphic, and I honestly had to skim over some of the pages, because I could not allow myself to digest some of the things that were happening in the novel. I only gave it 3 stars, because I was so mad at the book.

ABenjamin33 Dec 09, 2013

Needed an altenative ending. Overall good book. Subject matter was a bit matture and even though targeted to young adults it should be read by older teens.

tiracialspirit Jul 05, 2012

After I finished I wanted to start over, and hope for an ending with more closure. Excellent read though.

yazthebeast Jun 25, 2012

I loved this book. I had many sleepless nights trying to finish it.

LouLooJ Jun 25, 2012

I loved the book even though i felt it moved a bit slow. The story broke my heart because even though it was fictional this very easily could be real. i wish everyone had the ability to fight back.

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