"When I was seven I told my father that I wanted to grow up to be invisible." So begins this stunning debut novel.
As a young woman of mixed race, Nellie Kincaid is about to encounter the strange, unsettling summer of her fifteenth year. Reeling from the recent separation of her parents, Nellie finds herself traveling to the family's lake house with only her father and her estranged cousin, leaving behind the life and the mother she is trying to forget.
Now, as she navigates the twists and turns of first love and shifting family loyalties, what has always been a warm, carefree time is suddenly filled with new tensions. As the summer progresses, Nellie moves toward a definition of self that encompasses all the aspects of her paradoxical -- yet truly American -- identity, only to find her family growing more divided with each passing day. Does her newfound identity require her to distance herself from those she loves?
With depth and compassion, Rachel M. Harper charts the remarkable, captivating journey of a hero-ine's first encounters with our vast and sometimes dangerous country. Not only is Brass Ankle Blues a story of a young woman's search for autonomy, it is also about the things that keep family together: loyalty, forgiveness, and love.
Harper's thoughtful but heavy-handed coming-of-age debut tracks the summer of Nellie Kincaid's 15th year. Like many teenagers, Nellie is sullen and curious, contemptuous of her mother and adoring of her father, swept up in the throes of first love and making bids for independence. As the daughter of a white mother and black father, however, most of her angst revolves around her mixed heritage. Devastated by the recent separation of her parents, she embarks on a journey to her family's lake house with her father, Malcolm, a quiet, cerebral English professor, and her white cousin Jess, a chain-smoking, free-spirited, kleptomaniac 16-year-old girl. On a road trip of misadventures that spans Boston, St. Croix, and Minnesota, Nellie discovers that she and Jess have more in common than she'd like to admit, and that family can offer solace from uncertainty. Despite its impassioned identity politics, the novel lacks revelatory punch, as with Nellie's final insight: "The family, the cabin, the lake: they are all old and new at the same time, just like I am. Foreign and familiar/ Urban and rural/ Black and white/ Here and there/ Everywhere even in you."
I LOVED this book!!