Thursday, July 02, 2009

New Today: Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice

In 2008, Carleen Brice was named Breakout Author of the Year at the African American Literary Awards Show. The book under discussion at that time was her debut novel, Orange Mint and Honey (which has, incidentally, been optioned for film by the Lifetime Movie Network).

Though Orange Mint and Honey was Brice’s debut novel, that well-received work was not her first book. She is also the author of the non-fiction works Lead Me Home: An African American’s Guide Through the Grief Journey; Walk Tall: Affirmations for People of Color and she edited Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife. As can be gleaned from the title of those books, Brice is deeply concerned with issues of race and how those issues manifest themselves in contemporary America.

That concern shows again in her most recent book, Children of the Waters (One World). Here Brice introduces us to Trish Taylor, a white woman married to a black man with whom she is raising a child. When Trish’s marriage ends, she returns to her family home in Denver where she begins to unlock a series of secrets spiraling out from one that is central to her understanding of her family. Trish had been told her mother and baby sister, Billie, died in a car crash many years before. But Trish discovers that her sister didn’t die. Billie was put up for adoption because her mother’s parents didn’t want to raise a biracial child. There are other secrets. And deep misunderstandings and a lot of ground to cover before those misunderstandings and hurts decades old can be put to rest.

Children of the Waters is, for the most part, an enjoyable journey. Are there times when it seems that Brice’s concern for issues of race overtakes her story? Perhaps. But it’s a good story and Brice is a wonderful writer. How can one fault passion when that passion is part of what makes the tale exactly what it is?

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