4 out of 4 stars
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It was on that last day of July 1914 that a blue-eyed boy was born. As the screams of childbirth soon died down in that rural shack, otherworldly yet musically sounding cries of the newborn baby filled the air. If his eyes’ color wasn’t unique enough for the offspring of an African-American couple, the series of unusual, miracle-like events starting from his birth made him undoubtedly not far from being heaven-sent. That was just the beginning.
A “surreal, soulful, and stirring” story and more, Kuimba by Priscilla B Shuler deserved 4 out of 4 stars.
For history enthusiasts, it may be quite a common knowledge that this fiction’s initial timelines also coincided with the start of the first world war. However, its theme was not about any of that period but of something better, especially for those like me who would prefer the brighter side. It should be noted that the Americans would only be joining the Allied forces around three years after the period. Thus, while the noise, toils, and atrocities had been brewing in other parts of the globe, this piece took its characters to a parallel realm of ethereal melodies for their ears and fantastic situations to spontaneously grace a number of their years instead.
Tenants at the time may still be experiencing what had been termed as a different kind of “slavery” as they were forced to give huge shares of their crops and harvests to their landlords. Such would defy what could be acceptable in our present times. Nevertheless, it was quite interesting to note how they acknowledged the reality that their situation was already a great improvement from what their ancestors had before the abolition of chattel slavery around half a century earlier. The storyline went a bit deeper than a mere chronicle of historical events as it also amply explored beliefs and matters of the soul. As the former slaves gained their freedom, their faith remained. Their resolve was bound to become even stronger against another form of enslavement – that from sin.
There were only three glaring editing or proofreading lapses that I spotted so far on the 178 pages of the electronic manuscript. Misspelled words and obliterated language proliferated in most of the pages. I think, though, that the dialogues’ lexical variations were even meant to reinforce more nuanced characterizations. The pace seemed slower than what I would have been more inclined to appreciate in a fictional work. Nonetheless, I think that what may have been another shortcoming turned out to be an advantage; the unhurried tempo also ultimately allowed the eventual ample development of the characters’ personalities and peculiarities as well as vividly depicted the setting’s details. Further, as compelling as any other account of metaphorical redemption was the second chance at life that the supposed antagonist and others like him (and the rest of us) could possibly have. Indeed, this was also a proverbial tale of hope for hopeless cases, glimmer beyond the dark clouds or light at the end of a tenebrous tunnel.
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