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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois (2022)

por Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

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1,0573119,423 (4.3)62
To come to terms with who she is and what she wants, Ailey, the daughter of an accomplished doctor and a strict schoolteacher, embarks on a journey through her family's past, helping her embrace her full heritage, which is the story of the Black experience in itself.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 31 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Most of the reviews were Raves for this carefully constructed and finely painted novel. ( )
  ben_r47 | Feb 22, 2024 |
This complex-yet-simple novel has several running themes: appreciation of family, ancestry, and pride in both; the importance of a college education; and the essential nature of storytelling. Beginning with a escaped slave who is welcomed into a Creek Indian village in 1733, the saga of the Garfield family of Chicasetta, Georgia (which began as a native settlement and became a plantation and then a quiet backwater, is a character onto itself) and their relations with their white enslavers and with an HBCU, Routledge University. The main character, Ailey Garfield, is the youngest of three daughters, and is supported by her parents, her sister Lydia, who succumbs to addiction, and her Uncle Root, her primary cheerleader and a former professor at Routledge. Along the journey, Ailey becomes involved with several cruel boyfriends as she tries to define her purpose and not to waste her noble heritage. The audio book is voluminous, but the readers and the words are enthralling through the entire 30 hours. ( )
  froxgirl | Feb 19, 2024 |
This gorgeous, provocative novel moves back and forth between centuries, weaving together the personal story of the main narrator, Ailey Pearl Garfield, and a historical chronicle of her enslaved ancestors (which are called “Song” throughout the book), bringing us rich, unforgettable characters of several ethnicities and races: Creek, African, European, and many mixtures thereof. The storylines eventually come together when Ailey, a Ph.D. candidate in history, is researching her doctoral thesis. Even the way in which Ms. Jeffers threads these stories together is fresh and quite ingenious, introducing characters at the margins of one segment who become prominent elsewhere, and as her Ailey character observes: “Only half the history has been told. The question is the point.” The horrors of life in the nineteenth-century plantation culture are not sugar-coated, nor are the twentieth-century personal trials and tragedies in Ailey’s life, yet despite the gruesome and despicable acts, the unnecessary deaths and tribulations, it reads like an epic adventure tale.

Also, I loved the book title’s play on the classic T.S. Eliot poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which is a navel-gazing tale of a white man that is laced with the themes of isolation, alienation, depression, and the erosion of reliance on traditional authority. These same themes may be juxtaposed with the lives of the Black, often mixed-race, characters in Ms. Jeffer’s novel, not so linearly, but reflecting what W.E.B. Du Bois called, in his seminal “The Souls of Black Folk,” the double-consciousness of Black people in the United States – both African and American. Also very clever was the use of different voices: the third-person plural voice of the Creek and Cherokee natives who occupied the land that we came to know as Georgia before the Jim Ogelthorpe and his British settlers arrived; the immediate first-person narrative of Ailey, and the third-person omniscient viewpoint of Ailey’s family, particularly of her mother, Belle, and her sister, Lydia. Although predicted the ending of Ailey’s quest, that did not distract in any way from the story or the telling of it. There are no perfect characters here, just as there are not perfect persons in real life. And, yet we love them nevertheless. So moving. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
I found this to be a great read, really engaging. I have gotten a bit tired of books with a dual time line, but in this case, it really serves the story. Ailey grows up upper middle class in the North; but really finds her home in Georgia, with her mother's people. Her experience there leads her to a PhD in history, and the chance to learn more about her ancestors; who include Creek Indian , white, and African Americans. There is, of course, a lot of trauma in that history, and we see how the trauma ripples through the generations.

At 800 plus pages, perhaps a tad long; I might have cut out some of Ailey's romantic and sexual entanglements. Her relationships with men were realistic, I thought, but went on a bit much. However, this is a small quibble, this is one of my top reads of the year, I was always happy to pick it up, and am sad now to be done with it. ( )
  banjo123 | Dec 30, 2023 |
I don't even know where to start. As someone living in Georgia, on the land of the Muskogee, I feel this book is so so important to read. Yes it's "fiction" but it includes the lived experiences of Indigenous and Black people who lived here before me, and who live here now. Ms. Jeffers is such a gifted writer. ( )
  decaturmamaof2 | Nov 22, 2023 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Honorée Fanonne Jeffersautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Chilton, KarenNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Ojo, AdenreleNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Onayemi, PrenticeNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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They that walked in darkness sang songs in the olden days—Sorrow Songs—for they were weary at heart. And so before each thought that I have written in this book I have set a phrase, a haunting echo of these weird old songs in which the soul of the black slave spoke to men. Ever since I was a child these songs have stirred me strangely. They came out of the South unknown to me, one by one, and yet at once I knew them as of me and of mine.
—W.E.B. Du Bois, "Of Sorrow Songs"
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For James William Richardson Jr.
and Sidonie Colette Jeffers:
brother and sister,
heart and heart

And for my mother,
Dr. Trellie Lee James Jeffers,
who gave me our land
and our people
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We are the earth, the land. The tongues that trips and speaks the names of the dead as it dares to tell these stories of a woman's line.
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To come to terms with who she is and what she wants, Ailey, the daughter of an accomplished doctor and a strict schoolteacher, embarks on a journey through her family's past, helping her embrace her full heritage, which is the story of the Black experience in itself.

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