Published by: Penguin Books
Praised by Alice Walker and many other bestselling writers, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is an award-winning debut novel with incredible heart about life on the prairie as it's rarely been seen. Reminiscent of The Color Purple, as well as the frontier novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Willa Cather, it opens a window on the little-known history of African American homesteaders and gives voice to an extraordinary heroine who embodies the spirit that built America.
The Dame's Perspective :
Rarely have I experienced a historical novel such as this one. Ms Weisgarber has chosen to champion black women in the undeveloped and barren wilds of the Badlands, and she does it with a sensitivity that will break your heart, sparking feelings you didn't know you possessed. "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" is a mightily rendered novel, it left me wondering how I could have held my breath such a long time.
One thing was certain and universal throughout this book and that was the push-pull of relationship between man and woman. So many have experienced this expectation of the "bargain" for a marriage that hinges upon love and trust often weighed heavily on the woman's side, only to feel that "hinge" rusting away over years of hardship and childbearing. It is particularly present in this novel, handled in profound and bittersweet passages that show the anxieties of a mother's love and protective life-blood vrs. a man's drive to save his land and work. I felt Rachel's heartaches, her loneliness at times, and her isolation in choosing to do what was the best for her children; and, ultimately, for herself. While she, too, believed in working and culling out their stretch of land, it was secondary to her children.
Rachel is a character so perfectly described and drawn that she's sure to be remembered in the vein of all great heroines. She's the epitome of not just black (Negro) women, but the best in the feminine spirit that causes us to rise above hardship and strife to claim our rights as women of valour, and mothers who make a difference in the world. She makes us proud to be women.
That Ms Weisgarber chose this time period and these characters to write her book shines in its originality. I believe it's a gift that will keep living in the hearts and minds of many. Actually, I expect it will end up in the classrooms and colleges that reach for exceptional reading material of this period and of women who exempify those who made our country what it was meant to be.
"The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" makes me ashamed in a way that we haven't explored and honored black womens' contributions in opening our frontiers before this!
5 well-deserved stars
*Happily, I want to credit:
for allowing me to read this book.