4 out of 4 stars
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Redlined is a captivating memoir by Linda Gartz. It is based on letters, dairies, and documents from the author's family archives. Hoping to find an explanation for the rift that developed between her once passionately in-love parents, Gartz dug deep into the archives. She discovered how thwarted dreams, racist government policies, and historical events affected their family dynamic.
In the 1960s white communities were gripped by an intense fear. They had spent years living frugally, working backbreakingly hard to achieve the American dream. The biggest representation of this dream was their property. It was widely believed that the arrival of African Americans into a community lowered property values. Interestingly, these fears were not baseless, however, the reasons behind it were far different than what white people were led to belief. Gartz goes in depth in explaining how redlining, a racist government policy meant to benefit white people, actually turned around to bite the very people it was meant to protect. Gartz demonstrates how this policy affected people on the ground, people like her family.
I feel enlightened after reading Redlined. I've learned about historic events like the race riots and the sexual revolution, but I have never had the chance to see it from the viewpoint of someone who lived through it all. Redlined gave me that opportunity as it is beautifully written using elegant language that is easy to grasp. This masterful writing is complemented by the author's direct quotations from the varying sources and pictures that correspond with the events being narrated. This brought this nonfiction story to life. It played vividly in my minds eye, as though I was watching a gripping documentary.
Gartz has portrayed her family members as truthfully as she could, with very little bias. We see both the good and bad. I believe each reader will be able to take away a lesson or two from them. Strangely, my favourite character was the author's mother, Lillian Gartz. Devoted. Responsible. Overachieving. Self-sacrificing. These are words that rightly describe Lillian. Yet, for a period in her later life, she became bitter and angry when she did not receive recognition and appreciation for her self-sacrificing ways. I got to compare her life choices with the author's and realized that in as much as life was unkind to her, it all boiled down to her own decisions. And so, being a devoted daughter who often wishes to appease her parents, even to her detriment on occasion, I learned the importance of putting my needs first at times.
Without a doubt in my mind, Redlined deserves a whooping 4 out of 4 stars. If you love history like myself, you will be blown away by this book. I recommend it to historical nonfiction fans. Trust me, you will not be disappointed in reading this book!
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