From renowned playwright Jackie Alexander comes a captivating, masterfully told coming-of-age novel of a young man struggling through his haunting past to discover and save himself.
Stigmatized at birth due to his interracial parentage and reared in a household poisoned by domestic abuse, Kevin Matthews is orphaned at age ten after losing his mother to a violent attack at the hands of his father, who is jailed for the crime. Raised by his paternal grandfather, a Baptist Minister who instills values of the church as a base for recovery, Kevin is content with life in rural Louisiana during the 1970s until disturbing news surfaces regarding his mother's attack—news that sheds doubt on his father's guilt, and leads Kevin to relive painful memories. As Kevin grows up, the emotional scars of his childhood cast dark clouds over his relationships with women, and his life begins to spiral out of control. Faced with losing all that he loves, Kevin is forced to confront the man who holds the key to his salvation, his father.
Our Daily Bread is a rich and compelling coming-of-age story of a young boy whose journey takes us from the bayous of Louisiana to the big city lights of New York and Paris. Examining family, race, religion, and the lingering effects of domestic abuse, Our Daily Bread questions what defines one's legacy: the surroundings we are born into, or the choices we make thereafter.
Alexander's disappointing debut novel chronicles Kevin Matthews' passage into adulthood as he confronts his racially charged upbringing and the traumatic event that robbed him of his parents. The book opens in the 1970s after Kevin's (black) father is incarcerated for life after allegedly brutally assaulting his (white) mother, an episode that renders her a ghost of her former self an invalid requiring permanent institutional care. Kevin's grandfather, a Baptist preacher, raises the orphan in rural Louisiana, but the young boy's parents continue to play a significant role in his life his mother, whom he idealizes as a saint, inspires his valuation of education and faith, while the specter of his father, a quick-tempered drunk, reverberates in Kevin's own fall from grace. The major narrative arc unfolds in expected fashion, necessitating that Kevin confront his father to overcome his past. Although Alexander manages to create some suspense, and also entertain, he contributes little to the already exhausted genre of bildungsromans centered on father-son tensions and race relations making for a generic story of redemption.