Jacketflap: Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.
Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory--but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.
My thoughts: In a word: Powerful. This is an intricately woven, delicate story about a very dark period in American history, which Perkins-Valdez explores with compassion and intensity, with grace and honesty. It is a story that examines more than just the deep complexities of slavery; it examines the deep complexities of all humanity. Poignant and thought-provoking... I will let the following short excerpt entice you further:
"This was the women's deepest fear. That a white man would feel his slave children could easily be replaced with new ones, as if it were an exchange at a dry goods store."
It might be a good idea to have a box of tissue beside you for this one, dear reader.
Also be sure to come back on Wednesday!!! Dolen Perkins-Valdez answered some questions for me about writing historical fiction and I'm going to pass those answers on to you!!