Friday, October 08, 2010
The questions and answers posed by Bernice McFadden in Camilla's Roses are, I feel sure, the same thoughts my mother must have felt during her long illness. I really like Bernice McFadden's dedication at the beginning of the book about answers and questions. "Some people think it's in the telling, but I know it's in the asking." Like other books I've read by Bernice McFadden, Camilla's Roses is about family, African American families. All cultures are diverse and all cultures have a wonderful beauty whether it is the beauty in the way people converse, share neighborly gossip, share intimate moments of love. What is the role of the relatives? What meals are eaten? Is there a formal or informal atmosphere? There is a quaint, unique way of life that has to be written and sung about for others who only have knowledge of their culture. A book like Camilla's Roses gives us the chance to experience the lifestyles of the people around us.
How do different cultures choose to react to the weakest member of the family like Maggie, Velma's sister? There is the way each culture chooses to deal with the woman-child, man-child after they have met with the world outside of their safe haven, home. This is when parents discover that their young one has been broken by peer pressure. Each of these issues are covered in Camilla's Roses. Last but not least is how men and women react to a severe, body altering illness which enters the body and the home unexpectedly. Another issue is how do whole communities react to raw pain on an ordinary weekday morning when fire falls from the sky. Bernice McFadden writes about Nine-Eleven. The confusion and horror reached from Pennsylvania to New York and over to Washington. The emotional reactions traveled across the coasts and then, across the seas. Again, there were questions. "The why will be posed, set out, examined, and then put away for another time when they don't have to deal with the planning that comes along with death." I could literally feel that chain reaction of emotional pain all over again like it only happened yesterday as I read the reactions of the characters in the book.
Bernice McFadden's characters are unforgettable. There is Maggie and Velma. They are sisters living under one roof with it seems like all of the children in the world. All children are loved and cared for and wanted. Of course, all is not cotton candy and buttery popcorn in the family. There is the tragedy experienced by Maggie and Luke. There is Leroy who I wanted to destroy with one hand. There is Audrey whom I wanted to shake out of a mental haze. Then, I wanted to pour love in her ear. Let her know the best place to find love is home with mom and daddy. Of course, there is Camilla Rose. What can I say? She squeezed my heart. My eyes dropped tears. I wanted her to go back to the place where she could find love no matter her color and no matter how she had changed in appearance because she could always go home again. I wanted the grown-up Camilla to know the thorns of childhood can go away and never come back to hurt you again.
"The moment is now , the question is coming and the beginning of forever commences." Thanks again Ms. Bernice McFadden for another truly wonderful journey to another place with different people.