Passing Through Perfect by Bette Lee Crosby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book I have read by Bette Lee Crosby. I enjoyed The Twelfth Child, and the author contacted me to read her latest book Passing through Perfect. She provided an ebook download for me to read and provide a review. I told her I was stacked up reading two other books, but once I read the first two pages, I moved the other books down in my stack. I was hooked.
The author warned me that the story was told by a young black man in Alabama during the Jim-Crow era, and I supposed that she wanted to know if his voice rang true. I didn't tell her that I grew up in Virginia in the Jim-Crow era, a time when public accommodations were restricted to "Whites Only," and as a little girl riding my tricycle around the block, I was told I didn't belong on that street.
But on to the story of Benjamin Church and the love of his life, Delia. I guess I loved them both. For me to be hooked on a story there has to be at least one character I cared about. This novel gave me many. But there were antagonists on both sides of the racial divide. Delia's father was a preacher, graduate of Howard University, one of the foremost HBCU's in the USA. Rev. Finch could not accept Delia's relationship with Benjamin, a sharecropper. And when he learned that Delia was pregnant, he disowned her.
Benjamin and Delia made the best of their hard life on the farm, with Benjamin's Daddy, and their son Isaac. Life in Grinder's Corner wasn't so bad because they had friends on neighboring farms, and everybody was struggling poor. It was only when they went to the larger town that they had to deal with the signs that said, "No Colored," and Delia realized she wanted a better life for their son Isaac.
The story was a page-turner. The only thing that didn't ring true for me was the broken English spoken by Delia. I expected the dialect from Benjamin as he had been educated in a one-room school with sparse resources, and his parents had not graduated from high school. Delia on the other hand was the only child of well-educated parents, and she herself attended a private school. When I think of my own late parents who graduated from Morris Brown College in 1924, I remember their love of good diction, and love of books. I would expect the same for Delia.
But I really liked the book, and will be looking for more from this author.
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