The basics: Regina Burns has turned her life back around. She's out of rehab, but her poor decisions have left her home, the home her mother and grandmother grew up in, in danger of being taken by the bank. She sets off for Atlanta to work for her former boss, inspirational speaker Beth Davis, to organize the paper's of her late son, Son Davis, to whom Regina was engaged.
My thoughts: I remember reading Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do shortly after it came out nearly ten years ago. As I re-read it, I was surprised how much of the story I remembered, even the little details. It's a unique novel. Still present are Pearl Cleage's characteristic impassioned writing:
"The signs the demonstrators carried in Memphis right before Martin Luther King was killed said only i am a man. We all knew what that meant, and we embraced it, endorsed it, longed for it. But something happened between then and now. The definition of what a man is and what a man does has been so corrupted and compromised by a pop culture that will tell you anything to sell you everything that now we have manhood defined by cars and clothes and random sex and money made by any means necessary."What separates this novel from her first two might surprise some: magical realism. This novel is a fascinating work of fiction because it's simultaneously realistic and a product of fantasy. It straddles the line beautifully between what is real, what might be real, and what could be real.
Against this backdrop of reality and dreams are dynamic characters. Regina is a beautiful, flawed, honest, strong heroine. The Atlanta in this novel is a character itself, and its idealized yet realistic portrayal is one I remember and miss. The other characters of this novel bring stability, drama and chaos in a beautifully, dramatic way.
Favorite passage: "My mother always said a steady diet of scary bad news was just a right-wing plot to make people afraid to trust one another, and I used to laugh, but I think maybe she was right."
The verdict: Pearl Cleage's lyrical writing, astute observations on contemporary African-American society, and hints of magical realism delight. Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do is a novel that makes me confront the world we live in, but it also makes you dream about the world we could live in.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Publication date: August 26, 2003
Source: purchased for my Kindle
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