Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Serenity #104 Whew!

Am crossing two finish lines today and the sense of release is as much like serenity as anything I've ever called serenity.

I finished NaNoWriMo.


And I'm reviewing the last of my selections for the Herding Cats challenge. Though this is more like a little friendly chat than a review.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid

This story has all the elements that make a coming of age story so enchanting. A young girl must confront hard realities and choose whether to be kept imprisoned by them or to fly free into the wide world and into her self. She must learn to walk through the despair and heartbreak of betrayal and guilt into a place where forgiveness is the key that opens the long locked door to a world limned with love.

Lilly has been raised since a toddler by her father who is a man full of rage and contempt. He informs her on the eve of her first day at school that she had been the one who shot her mother in the gun accident when she was three. He punishes her for the typical childhood infractions by having her kneel in a pile of uncooked grits for hours on end.

The incident that sets her free from her father's home is one in which she must choose between obedience to arbitrary rules set by her father and the deep south culture of the late sixties and submission to her own inner compass that points to a Justice constrained by compassion and mercy. The black Nanny who has raised her since her mother's death had gotten into an an altercation with several white men when she went into town to register to vote. By fighting back and mouthing off she had sealed her fate in that town--essentially a death sentence. Not an official one through a court of law but rather some kind of 'accident' was bound to happen to her while she was in custody for the assault charges. When Lily's father said as much to Lily in response to her pleas to get Rosaleen out too on the ride home from the jailhouse where he'd had to come pick her up, she realized rescuing Rosaleen would have to be up to her. And when he dropped her off at home and told her to sit in her room contemplating the consequences of her actions that day until he returned from the orchards for dinner, she did so but only long enough to realize that rescuing herself was also up to her.

So she doesn't wait in her room like she'd been told. She packs a duffel and walks back into town and breaks Rosaleen out of the hospital room she had been sent to after a 'fall' she'd taken at the jail after Lily had left. They hitchhike to a small town, the name of which had been on a mysterious picture of a Black Madonna that had belonged to Lily's mother, where they discover the home of three black sister's who sell honey and beeswax candles with labels featuring the very same Black Madonna picture.

Lily and Rosaleen are taken in by the calendar sisters--August, June and May. It is a magical interlude but trouble is stirring. Not the least of which is the repercussions bound to follow once the news that a young white girl is living with the calendar sisters and has been seen riding alone in the truck with Zach, August's hired hand. Arguably a worse breach of the local codes than Rosaleen's flaunting of the fact she was headed over to register to vote had been.

I can't say much more without giving spoilers so I'm going to hush now. Except to add that it has been a uniquely inspiring experience to have been reading this story while still embraced in the afterglow of the 2008 Presidential election.

1 tell me a story:

Ann 12/01/2008 4:21 PM  

Yay! You finished! Congrats. :)

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