I love books. I am an African American woman and a bookstore owner. My name is VaLinda. I was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and am a long-time resident of South Carolina. Quite frankly, I came from poverty. When I was growing up as a little girl, I would have been termed “disadvantaged.” And, yes, occasionally and despite the best efforts of the wonderful people who raised me, I went hungry. I mention these circumstances only so the reader understands a little of my background.
For much of my life, it had been a seemingly unreachable ambition of mine to own a bookstore. Yet, about six years ago, I somehow managed to purchase a bookstore in Seneca, S.C. and closed it 4 years later, for several reasons, which I will explain another time. However, my store manager and best friend, Arrylee and I successfully transferred the contents of that store to a brand-new location in Goose Creek - Turning Page Bookshop.
The acclaimed author of The Talented Ribkins deconstructs painful African American stereotypes , offers a fresh & searing critique on race, class, privilege, ambition, exploitation, and the seeds of rage in America in this masterfully executed historical novel, set in early the twentieth century that centers around the black servants of a down-on-its heels upper-class white family.
For fifteen years August Sitwell has worked for the Barclays, a well-to-do white family who plucked him from an orphan asylum and gave him a job.
The groundskeeper is part of the household’s all-black staff, along with “Miss Mamie,” the talented cook, pretty new maid Jennie Williams, & three young kitchen apprentices, the latest orphan boys Mr. Barclay has taken in to "civilize" boys like August.
But the Barclays fortunes have fallen, and their money is almost gone. When a prospective business associate proposes selling Miss Mamie’s delicious rib sauce to local markets under the brand name “The Rib King”—using a caricature of a wildly grinning August on the label—Mr. Barclay, desperate for cash, agrees. Yet neither Miss Mamie nor August will see a dime. Humiliated, August grows increasingly distraught, his anger building to a rage that explodes in shocking tragedy.
A promise could betray you.
It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to and was forced to leave behind when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.
Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.