Grand Mothers: Poems, Reminiscences and Short Stories about the Keepers of Our Traditions

Nikki Giovanni, Author
Nikki Giovanni, Author Henry Holt & Company $17.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2766-2
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994
Release date: 08/01/1994
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-0-8050-4903-9
Prebound-Other - 168 pages - 978-0-613-00499-2
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This sometimes captivating collection is built around the figure of the grandmother-caretaker, disciplinarian, holder of memory. While contributions from established writers like Maxine Hong Kingston, Gloria Naylor and Gwendolyn Brooks act as lures, the real treasures here are offered by relatively unknown authors. Native American novelist Susan Power's mythic ``The Roofwalker'' explores the role of grandmother as guide (``Grandma Mabel told me that life is a circle, and sometimes we coil around on ourselves like a drowsy snake''). Another standout, Anna Esaki-Smith's sparkling ``Ba Chan,'' introduces a young woman who reconciles her feelings about her two grandmothers, one good and one bad, after one of them dies. Young readers may not grasp the full meaning of some of the pieces, like Sharon Dilworth's moving ``A Loss in Detroit,'' about a young woman coming to terms with an unwanted divorce, or Kingston's ``The Magical Grandmother,'' about a Chinese grandfather who longs for a daughter in a culture where girls are considered ill omens. Elsewhere, various entries collapse into dry genealogies. But when this collection is good, it is very good, and it ultimately proves a diverse and moving tribute. Ages 11-up. (Aug.)
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