A new edition of this award-winning modern classic, with an introduction by Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), an excerpt from the never before seen follow-up, and discussion guide.
Pakersfield, Georgia, 1958: Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn is the sixth of ten fatherless siblings. She is the darkest-skinned among them and therefore the ugliest in her mother, Rozelle’s, estimation, but she’s also the brightest. Rozelle—beautiful, charismatic, and light-skinned—exercises a violent hold over her children. Fearing abandonment, she pulls them from school at the age of twelve and sends them to earn their keep for the household, whether in domestic service, in the fields, or at “the farmhouse” on the edge of town, where Rozelle beds local men for money.
But Tangy Mae has been selected to be part of the first integrated class at a nearby white high school. She has a chance to change her life, but can she break from Rozelle’s grasp without ruinous—even fatal—consequences?
Phillips's searing debut reveals the poverty, injustices and cruelties that one black family suffers some of this at the hands of its matriarch in a 1958 backwater Georgia town. Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn loves her mother, Rozelle, but knows there's "something wrong" with her which, as it soon becomes clear, is an extreme understatement. As the novel opens, Rozelle is getting ready to give birth to her 10th child (by a 10th father) and thinking about forcing the obedient Tangy Mae, who longs to stay in school, to take over her housecleaning job. Using a large cast of powerfully drawn characters, Phillips captures life in a town that serves as a microcosm of a world on the brink of change. There's Junior, the perpetual optimist, who wants to teach people to read and write so they can understand the injustices of Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan; Hambone, a here today/gone tomorrow rabble-rouser whose anger against white men and their laws inflames those around him; and Miss Pearl, the only true friend to the Quinn family. At the dark heart of the story is Rozelle, the beautiful mixed-race head of the Quinn family whose erratic mood swings, heart-wrenching cruelty and deep emotional distress leave an indelible mark on all her children. Through all the violence and hardship breathes the remarkable spirit of Tangy Mae, who is wise beyond her years; forced to do unspeakable things by her mother and discriminated against by the town's whites, she manages to survive and to rescue a younger sister from the same fate.
The Darkest Child
Don’t read this book if your looking for a happy outcome. This book is not for the light hearted. It was hard to read but hard to put down. It’s set at the beginning of the civil rights movement so reading how black people were treated is disheartening and unbelievably sad but very truthful. You have that whole dimension then the main characters treatment of her children and the outcomes of their lives is just dark. Like I said don’t read if your looking for a happy outcome but this book definitely draws you in and you have to get to the end to see if something changes.
What a great book! We need a part two!
This book was one of the best books I’ve ever read.