Thursday, October 03, 2019

Historical Gentrification Novel Intimate and Poignant

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

To outsiders, it may look like a grungy, aging slum.  To others, Brooklyn—a mostly Black community in Charlotte, North Carolina—is a vibrant, colorful neighborhood full of good folks, long-time residents whose families have lived, loved and died in the close-knit area.  When the city decides to raze Brooklyn, the community erupts.  Despite promises of new housing and the relocation of businesses, local families know nothing will ever be the same for them.  It may have its problems, but Brooklyn is their home.  Losing it will change their lives irrevocably.

Tomorrow's Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew is told from three viewpoints—that of Loraylee Hawkins, a single mom who must keep her relationship with her child's white father a secret; Ebenezer Polk, the aging reverend of Brooklyn's St. Timothy's Second Presbyterian Church; and Persy Marshall, the sympathetic wife of one of the white men in charge of "redeveloping" the community.  Through their eyes, the reader comes to know Brooklyn in all its variety and its people in all their complexity.  With this intimate knowledge, the reader really feels the tragedy of the neighborhood's demise.  Based on real events, the story brings the conflicts and controversy surrounding gentrification to life.  That's the beauty of Tomorrow's Bread.  The novel doesn't have much of a plot and the storyline it does have is at times disjointed, confusing, and slow, making the read a bit of a slog.  In the end, then, I liked this one but didn't love it.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:



If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, mild sexual content, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

4 comments:

  1. Sounds good. I've seen some of this going on in Houston and I often wonder what happens to all the people being displaced in the name of progress. I have some friends who have been here all their lives, and what they describe about Houston in the "old days" is totally unrecognizable these days. I can tell they miss the old neighborhoods a lot.

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  2. If you had raved about this one I would have given it a try, but life is too short for a book that's a bit of a slog.

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  3. This sounds like it has a lot of premise and maybe at a different time it'd be one I'd pick up but a slog really isn't appealing to me right now so I think I'll pass.

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  4. This sounds like such an interesting premise, too bad the execution didn't live up that. Interesting that it's based on a true story.

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