Our Daily Bread

Jackie Alexander. Turner (www.turnerpublishing.com), $15.95 trade paper (252p) ISBN 978-1-59652-895-6
Alexander's disappointing debut novel chronicles Kevin Matthews' passage into adulthood as he confronts his racially charged upbringing and the traumatic event that robbed him of his parents. The book opens in the 1970s after Kevin's (black) father is incarcerated for life after allegedly brutally assaulting his (white) mother, an episode that renders her a ghost of her former self—an invalid requiring permanent institutional care. Kevin's grandfather, a Baptist preacher, raises the orphan in rural Louisiana, but the young boy's parents continue to play a significant role in his life—his mother, whom he idealizes as a saint, inspires his valuation of education and faith, while the specter of his father, a quick-tempered drunk, reverberates in Kevin's own fall from grace. The major narrative arc unfolds in expected fashion, necessitating that Kevin confront his father to overcome his past. Although Alexander manages to create some suspense, and also entertain, he contributes little to the already exhausted genre of bildungsromans centered on father-son tensions and race relations making for a generic story of redemption. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-0-9830405-0-7
Hardcover - 252 pages - 978-1-63026-396-6
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