In this painstakingly honest portrayal of a young girl searching for her elusive father in the process of coming to terms with her own past, master writer Virginia Hamilton constructs a world of raw emotion that’s truly staggering.
When 12-year-old Buhlaire Sims looks in the mirror, she doesn’t like what she sees at all: a dark, dark, dark-skinned girl, whose mother is a nightclub singer and whose father was declared missing-in-action in the Vietnam War. Buhlaire is also a girl who can’t find the right words to tell the world she feels she’s been wronged her entire life: she sees her life as having been shattered into tiny fragments that can’t be put back together. Yet Buhlaire attempts to adjust the best she can, even in the face of others’ secrets and whispers about the situations she finds so painful.
Quite simply, her heart can’t take much more of it: dealing with relatives who think she’s strange because of her dark skin, and dealing with her mother Bluezy, who leaves her with them when she’s out singing. Finally, she discovers the ultimate secret: her father is not missing at all, but is mentally ill, living beneath the interstate bridge. When Buhlaire comes face to face with her father, she must come to terms with her past, present, and future.
Buhlaire’s emotions seep from the page. Hamilton packs the pure essence of truth, lies, and real love in her text. Tough subjects such as dysfunctional families, family secrets, prejudice, and self-identity are carefully structured and conveyed throughout, offering readers passionate and thought-provoking material. Hamilton creates a world that lets readers find their own perspective, compelling them to think about issues that may or may nor affect them everyday, bridging the gap between fiction and fact. Beautifully written, this is a novel that will surely leave readers wanting more of Hamilton’s books.