A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick

historical-books

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

A Light in the WildernessA Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Like every woman of color, her life was a blend of fitting in and standing out.
…for her children and herself, she needed to model stepping up.

Overall, A Light in the Wilderness, based on a true story, is a timely and triumphant work exploring love, dreams, and perseverance, race and gender and justice. It is chiefly the story of Letitia, an understandable and admirable character whose journey causes the reader to weigh various questions. “What is family? And what is it worth?” “What makes a marriage?” “What determines a person’s true freedom?” My favorite words of Letitia’s are spoken in response to her friend Nancy’s admission to weakness and the lack of will to carry on in the midst of tragedy, to which Letitia replies, “Just live today. Lord take care of tomorrows.” A wise principle, simply delivered. Another simple exchange, one between Letitia and Davey in Chapter 25, touched me with its poignancy, questioning how we handle the fleeting moments of our lives.

It was a while before I really got into the book, as much of the novel fell somewhat flat to me, lacking a certain drive in the story line. The storytelling felt disjointed at times, making it a challenge to feel for the characters during the passing accounts of events that befell them, and there were parts that read more like a biography than a novel, especially toward the end, likely to include all of the necessary true facts. Descriptions of Letitia’s physical appearance seemed to be a bit overdone at points, as I doubt that her face was the color of “the skinny piano keys” or that her children might be born with skin as “black as coal, like hers.” I’m sure her skin was a shade of brown, so perhaps the darker descriptions revealed how much of society taught her to view herself as opposed to illustrating her actual physical color.

Jane Kirkpatrick brings to light some interesting pieces of US history that I was previously unaware of, including in the enlightening Author’s Note, and the ultimate triumph toward the novel’s end, particularly the triumph of one free woman’s soul, made it all well worth the read.

 

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