1956. Martha was growing up in the deep South. Her upper-middle-class family was undeniably racist but probably no more so than many others of that time. Martha's family, however, was unhappier than others. Her grandfather sexually abused her, her father's career was unstable, and her mother didn't even seem to like her. But then she met Lucy, her family's maid, and they formed an instant connection.
She secretly began spending time with Lucy's family and found solace in their healthy relationships. They became her caretakers, her friends and, in a sense, her family.
1964. Silas, Lucy's nephew, and Martha soon found themselves falling in love but well aware of the "line in the sand" that prevented them from being together. As they got older, they remained connected despite relocations, high school, college, Vietnam and even disapproval from both families. This enduring bond made them start to wonder if they would be able to have a public relationship after all.
It was heart-breaking to read a first-hand account of a relationship that was almost certainly doomed just because of when it occurred. I knew while reading that permanent happiness for Silas and Martha would likely be impossible; yet, their pure love for each other kept me hoping. Martha's account officially ends in 1968, but she does briefly reflect on what has happened since then--particularly stressing the importance of President Obama's election.The book does a great job of presenting an average person's perspective on the civil rights movement and the conflict surrounding Vietnam. Martha never glosses over prejudices--even her own, and she is honest about her questions and struggles as well.
She does a great job of putting her story in the context of history (relating events, facts, speeches and even prices of the time), but I would rather have had only brief mentions of these entertwined with even more of her perspective. But this is absolutely my only complaint.
The book made me examine the setting of my own upbringing in small-town Alabama. It was vastly different from Martha's in some ways, but, even in the 1990s, prejudices still remained just below surface-level. Black and white students didn't sit together in the cafeteria, for example, or sleep over at each other's houses. So I can't help but wonder what would have happened if any of us had crossed that line, had reached out to make friends with someone who only looked different than we did. I know we wouldn't have reaped the consequences people in Martha's generation did, but I suspect we would have enjoyed many of the same benefits.
The book is a good reminder that we Southerners do a better job now in dealing with people who are different (in many ways) than we are, but we still have plenty of room for improvement.
They have always been slaves since they were brought to this country. They will always be slaves in one form or another. They have always served the white man, and they always will.
Being there was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was like time travel to a place in time where the world was really quite simple, and everyone knew what was expected of them. A more perfect world than the one I knew. A world where fathers always had jobs, and the color of one's skin was rarely noticed; where no one played 'touch me' games with children and no church sent babies to Limbo.
When you has a dog it's 'cause they picked you to be with.
A crow just might love a fish, but where's they gonna build their house.
The days of late spring in Texas are among the most beautiful of anywhere on earth. Bright red sunsets and budding pecan trees usher in the hot summers that always prevail.
Sometimes, when you're tryin' to figure life out, it's better if you just stays put until a solution can catch up with your problem.