Baby of the Family

Tina McElroy Ansa, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $18.95 (265p) ISBN 978-0-15-110431-4
In this engaging coming-of-age novel by a new black writer, young Lena McPherson leads a charmed life, secure in her family and in the world Ansa evokes. Born in 1949 in a private blacks-only hospital in rural Georgia, Lena is the third child and longed-for first daughter of Nellie and Jonah, who own the local bar and liquor store. Considered ``special'' because she was born with a caul, believed to bestow sight into the future, Lena learns as a toddler that her special powers have more to do with the past: she can see and talk with ghosts. Despite her extraordinary talent, Lena is most memorable for the ordinariness of her everyday life. Following Lena's first friendships, her years at school, her observations of her parents' sometimes stormy relationship, her grief at her grandmother's death, Ansa beautifully renders Lena's stable, well-off world. Readers get a view of middle-class black small-town life in the relatively placid mid-century, a time when a grandmother scorns the black families who vacation at the beach, and where a little girl often feels her life is dictated solely by demands that she keep her hair dry and combed. Ansa's thorough and affectionate portrait marks her as a writer of both promise and achievement. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Paperback - 276 pages - 978-0-15-610150-9
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