Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Forty Acres & Down Home Blues by Phyllis Dixon
I love family sagas, and to run across a series that centers around an African American family, as well as being set in my home state of Arkansas, makes me doubly happy. These little gems are going high up on my TBR list. It sounds like they will definitely have some humorous moments as well as family drama. I hope that I enjoy the actual reading as much as I enjoyed the discovery of these!
Folks sure do act funny, when it comes to money. No one gave the Washington family forty acres or a mule. C.W. Washington has risen from a sharecropper's son to one of the largest black landowners in the county. But a stroke has forced him to retire from farming. Now he must decide what happens to his land. His children are coming home for the Fourth of July family reunion. Each has a suggestion, unfortunately, none of them agree. Charles has farmed alongside C.W. all his life and believes the land is his birthright. Beverly doesn't mind her older brother getting the land, if he buys the rest of them out. Cecelia wants them to sell the land and split the money. And she hopes its fast, before her husband discovers how precarious her recreational casino visits have made their finances. Raymond warns of the conspiracy to dilute black economic power and opposes a land sale. What if one sibling is a successful businessman and doesn't need the money, and another is in prison and can't use it? And what about the startling revelation that one of them is not C.W.'s biological child? C.W. has asked his daughter Carolyn to sort out this mess. But she was planning to spend the holiday with her lover and make some fireworks of her own. Blacks left the land in droves in the early twentieth century and now represent less than two percent of all farmers. But wasn't the civil rights movement about progress and options? The Washingtons have overcome drought, Jim Crow and poverty. Now comes the hard part... The reunion should be a time of fellowship and fun. But this year, along with barbeque, fried catfish and hand-cranked ice cream, there'll be servings of suspicion, secrecy and greed. This Fourth of July, fireworks won't only be in the sky.
HOME IS THE PLACE WHERE WHEN YOU HAVE TO GO THERE THEY HAVE TO LET YOU IN.
Eden, Arkansas is a town you are from, not move to. But when divorce, foreclosure, domestic violence, and an all-expense paid trip (also called prison) disrupt the Washington siblings’ perfectly planned lives, they end up back down home. Instead of serenity, sibling rivalries, divided loyalties and money squabbles resurface. Even the good news, that there may be natural gas on their father’s land, causes conflict. When their father, C.W. Washington, one of the largest landowners in the county, announces his engagement, barely six months after his wife’s death, his daughters fear Viagra is clouding his judgement (his sons say – go for it).
Homemade preserves and family dinners are welcome by-products of the move down home. Unfortunately, family members aren’t always singing in the same key. But just a few notes can switch a gloomy blues tune to the soundtrack for a good time. What song will the Washingtons play?