A disturbing book to read and one that is emotionally draining.  A woman has ten children. She beats them, pimps and prostitutes them and abuses them beyond reason. The story is about the journey of  Tangy Mae and her fight to survive and escape. The Darkest Child By Delores Phillips #fiction #reading #books

The Darkest Child

By Delores Phillips

PBR Book Review:

he Darkest Child by Delores Phillips has been on my TBR list for quite some time, and I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner. Phillips is an excellent storyteller and delivers an emotional read I thoroughly enjoyed. I listened to it on Audible and had a hard time taking a break. Small-town Georgia in the '60s provides the perfect setting for 13-year-old Tangy Mae's story. And although this book is fiction, there's a realness that is palpable. A determined Tangy Mae is desperate to escape her abusive family situation but is faced with several obstacles. First, she lives in poverty and is surrounded by racism with little opportunity. Secondly, her mother tells her she has no value and uses her for personal gain. And most importantly, she is considered the least desirable child because her skin color is the darkest of all the children.

Throughout the book, her mother inflicts emotional and physical harm to all the children with cruelty and harshness. Still, Tangy Mae forges on. This book is difficult to read at times, but I highly recommend you do. Racism, mental illness, and abuse are a few of the topics visited in this book which will give a Book Club a lot to discuss. It would make a great Book Club choice

Book Club Talking Points:

Book clubs will love this book because it has lots of discussion-worthy topics; race issues, child abuse, poverty, and education. There is also plenty of family drama, and it touches on the issue of mental illness. The struggles of the main character are also noteworthy as she struggles to survive and find her true north.
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*Discussion Questions

1. As the book opens, does Tangy Mae truly believe her mother is dying? If she does, how has she remained so innocent? Would things be different today? How is the loss of Tangy’s innocence reflected in her telling of the story?

2. How is the hierarchy that Rozelle establishes among her children of “white,” “Indian,” and “Negro” shaped by her own experience as a light-skinned black woman, as well as America’s history of colonization and slavery? Do you believe that racism based on skin tone persists today? How does its role differ within and outside of minority communities?

3. Rozelle has been brutal to her children, but she has never killed one until she throws Judy from the porch (Chapter 27). She is convincing when she tells the sheriff it was an accident. Why does Tangy momentarily refuse to believe her own senses? When she thinks, “No mother could do that, not even mine. Could she?” who or what is she questioning?

4. What affect does Rozelle’s appearance have on her mental condition? What benefits does she derive from her beauty, and conversely, how does it harm her? What is the difference between her current treatment by white society and the treatment she would be accorded if she “passed” as white?

5. What do you believe Rozelle’s reasons are for having children? Do you think she would have used “the pill” if it had been available? Rozelle says of Judy’s birth, “It broke something inside me they can’t fix. Had to take it out . . . said I couldn’t have no mo’, and all I got was a darkie.” What might this have to do with Judy’s untimely death?

6. How is Mushy different from her mother? How did she manage to leave the family to go to work in Cleveland? Did the experience really change her? Is Tangy Mae right to judge her for drinking? Why has she returned to Pakersfield?

7. Do you think Junior Fess could have proceeded differently and still been true to his ideals?

8. Was the burning of the town’s stores by Sam and his friends an act of protest against racism, an impulsive response to Junior’s murder and Sam’s inc

9. Why does the Sheriff deny Sam as his son? Knowing Rozelle’s history, do you believe that Sam is, in fact, his son? Is there ever any indication that the Sheriff cares for Sam? 10. Tangy Mae’s adolescence coincides with the last decade of Jim Crow and the start of integration in schools. She mentions in Chapter 55 that the county’s decision to integrate high schools is reversed in the second year due to violence. Do you think Tangy Mae would still have benefited from being part of the inaugural integrated class?

11. Tarabelle tries to murder her mother. Why is she so much angrier with Rozelle than the other children? Is she justified in her anger? What do Rozelle’s feelings seem to be for Tarabelle?

12. Despite her mother’s constant disparagement and the pain she has had to endure, Tangy Mae retains her strength and ambition. How has she been able to survive and retain her humanity? Is she right to leave at the end of the book, or could she have done something else? Why does she bring Laura with her?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)

Book Summary
Pakersfield, Georgia, 1958: Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn is the sixth of ten fatherless siblings. She is the darkest-skinned among them and therefore the ugliest in her mother, Rozelle’s, estimation, but she’s also the brightest. Rozelle—beautiful, charismatic, and light-skinned—exercises a violent hold over her children. Fearing abandonment, she pulls them from school at the age of twelve and sends them to earn their keep for the household, whether in domestic service, in the fields, or at “the farmhouse” on the edge of town, where Rozelle beds local men for money.

But Tangy Mae has been selected to be part of the first integrated class at a nearby white high school. She has a chance to change her life, but can she break from Rozelle’s grasp without ruinous—even fatal—consequences?
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