The book is historical fiction taking three young girl across the country to Oakland in 1968 to visit their estranged mother. The book tackles feminist issues, finding you path, forgiveness and family. The book also shows the positive aspects of the Black Panther Party as well as members being arrested. There is a strong theme of community within the black community that can't be ignored.
The mother in the novel, does not cook and discourages the girls from doing so. There is a strong sense that she refuses to be a mule, tied down to domestic chores. She is a poet and an activist. She isn't a bad mother but she makes it clear that she struggles with how to mother and points to her own relationship with her mother and the source of her turmoil. Being a motherless daughter certainly creates its own discontent and it is a theme that is rarely discussed, especially in kids literature.
I picked this book partially because of how A-typical the mother is. My son considers sexism deeply, he points it out in other and in himself. He has checked me several times and I am grateful he is not letting it get into his vocabulary. He is, however, still a kid and he has high expectations of mothers and I wonder if they are fair. I relate in many ways to the mother in the story and it makes me consider that makes a mother "good." A mother's love is natural but western representations of motherhood are a learned behavior.
Check out the latest episode of Conversations with BlerdHero to hear him talk about his opinion on the 26 books he has read this year.