african american · book review · fiction

Long Distance Life By Marita Golden

Long distance life

By Marita Golden

Published by Doubleday March 1, 1995

longdistance

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Have you ever finished reading a book and when you try to talk about it all you can do is make incoherent noises because you can’t find the words to describe it? That’s the way I feel about this book but, I am going to try and put some things at least into words that can be understood. I hope!

This is at the heart a story about a family and about love but, it’s also so much more than that. Naomi is the matriarch of the family. She leaves North Carolina in the great migration and heads for Washington D.C. There she establishes a good life for herself eventually marrying Rayford a good man, and giving birth to their only daughter Esther. Esther grows up in relative comfort but is head strong and stubborn, she drops out of college and becomes involved with Randolph a married man. Randolph and Esther have Logan their oldest son who grows up with the civil rights movement in the background. Esther abandons Logan to be raised by Naomi and Randolph and takes off to help in the civil rights movement in the south. Logan grows up longing for his mothers love and channels that longing into a career as a doctor. Esther eventually returns to Washington and reunites with Randolph and, tries to reestablish a relationship with Logan. Esther becomes pregnant with their second child Nathaniel. In what I see as a way of making up for her past mistakes Esther gives Nathaniel all of the love and more that she never could give to Logan. Nathaniel grows up adored by his mother but restless and he too eventually drops out of college and becomes a drug dealer in his neighborhood.

This is the first work of fiction I have read by Marita Golden I have previously read 2 of her non-fiction works. I knew going in I was going to enjoy her writing style. Marita has a way of making things sound pretty without making them sound forced or fake of fluffy (if that makes any sense). She is eloquent and gets to the point but never makes you feel like you’ve  missed out on something. So many of the things she writes about in this book make me say YES out loud because it sounded so much like my family. There are some major historical events that take place in this book although they are just background they still have profound effects on the characters and their lives and, are handled in just the right way. The first 3/4 of this book are pretty much amazing. I was riveted and engaged and found so many things I could relate to. The last 1/4 wasn’t as strong but was still really good I just felt like I wanted more of Nathaniel’s story then I got.

Overall this book was the kind of book I would read multiple times. Marita Golden was already one of my favorite authors and this book only strengthened that.

Visit Marita Golden’s website and check out her books.Pick something anything and read it you will not be dissapointed. I am going to read through myself and pick something else of hers to read soon!

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