3 out of 4 stars
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From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream by Janis S. Ellis, Ph.D., is a memoir that vividly portrays the struggle against systematic racism and sexism that the author faced and continues to face as a black woman in the United States. The author hopes not to just create awareness of these problems, but to assist others in navigating through the sea of turmoil that threatens to drown victims of such oppressive forces. Naturally, this book appeals to those who are weighed down by the same and or similar forms of injustice.
The book is split into two parts, both of which are composed of five chapters. Part 1: Finding My Purpose, introduces us to Janis, the black girl born and raised in a Mississippi town between Liberty and Magnolia. She was born in 1949, so she experienced segregation, civil right and women’s rights movements of the 1950-70s. Even closer to home, she went through an abusive marriage. Through all these hardships, she did not lose the drive to find her purpose.
Part 2: Fulfilling My Purpose may be summarized by Ellis' attempt to make the most of the circumstances that she found herself in. It was sad to see how her qualifications opened doors for her, but her growth was stunted because people could not stomach promoting a black woman. At the same time, I was given a renewed appreciation for the value of hard work.
It has been my experience that memoirs are prone to contain several grammatical errors. Fortunately, this book was professionally edited as evidenced by the lack of grammatical errors. Moreover, the author was very open about her life, so it was easy to establish an emotional connection with her. There were a few times that I was almost brought to tears. However, these cases usually had to do with her love life, and I find it hard to empathize with people who persist in abusive relationships.
Unfortunately, there was a demerit that I must highlight. At the start, Ellis gave away too much information in an unchronological manner. She informed me about some tragic moments in her adulthood in the middle of her recollection of her childhood. This felt like a major unwarranted spoiler.
In conclusion, I rate From Liberty to Magnolia 3 out of 4 stars . I would highly recommend this book to readers interested in memoirs and stories involving systematic injustice.
From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream
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