Everybody knows everybody else's business in Downtown, Tennessee. Neighbors while away afternoons at the local bar, swapping rumors about voodoo, incest, and illegitimate children. Usually they're gossiping about the Boten clan.
In this epic family saga, Lolita Files unveils the hidden lives of three generations of the Boten family. She introduces us to Grandma Amalie, a mother so fiercely protective, she will quietly sacrifice everything for her son. There's Grace, who conceals the identity of her child's father for more than twenty years. There's Aunt Sukie, whose strange power over her husband, Walter, is matched only by the strength of her dark magic. And then there's Lay, the bad seed, whose secret betrayals will cost his family dearly.
The family's past begins rising to the surface when a mysterious fire takes the life of young Ophelia Boten's infant son. The tragedy sets the family in motion, its members on a quest for self-discovery that will lead them to the drug world of inner-city Detroit, a midwestern college campus, the jungles of Vietnam, and back again. Ophelia sets her own course, one that will ultimately bring her into the arms of a caring and benevolent lover. But before she can embrace her new life and begin a family of her own, she must fully understand and accept the Boten clan's tormented legacy.
Inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet, Child of God is a story of family bonds, of forbidden love, of sacrifice and redemption. Moving deftly forward and backward in time, the narrative weaves the past with the present, and the family's mistakes echo unforgettably through each successive generation. As rich as it is rewarding, this is Lolita Files's most ambitious novel to date.
From the author of Scenes from a Sistah comes this saga of a family cast about by the winds of fate and torn apart by love and fear. Entwining the stories of two generations of the Boten clan of Downtown, Tenn., Files has created a lurid play of murder, incest, rape and deceit worthy of the Shakespearean names of her characters. She references Hamlet, but this spectacle might find a better comparison in Titus Andronicus. Ophelia Boten is the product of an incestuous union between her mother, Grace, and her latently homosexual uncle, Walter. Unaware of her own origins or the tragedies of her family's past, Ophelia is soon pregnant with a love child of her own, courtesy of her vicious older brother, Lay (short for Laertes). Lay is sent off to Detroit, where he becomes a heroin dealer, and their infant son Hamlet perishes in a fire that may or may not have been started deliberately by Sukie, Walter's voodoo witch of a wife. Unsurprisingly, the family unravels even further, and the narrative eventually degenerates into more murders, fires, addictions, rapes and just about everything else under the sun. Files's writing is serviceable, but fails to lift this soap opera up to a truly moving level, leaving the flat characters to carry out the Herculean task of transforming the overblown drama into something real and poignant. Throughout it all, Files harps on the power of love, both driving the characters further into self-destruction and bringing some eventual redemption but the plot is too unwieldy and the brushstrokes too broad for this tragedy to escape predictability and garishness.
Customer ReviewsSee All
My favorite book
I have read Child of God at least two times. This book is a mesmerizing page turner.
A real page-turner!
I can't put the book down! Every time I try, I must keep keep reading.
Our book club is reading this for the month of April. I finished it in less than a day. A real page turner. Full of twists and drama.