From the first look at the book and the synopsis I knew this one was a good one. The writing is fantastic, though the themes are difficult to read as the two major themes deal with internalized racism and homophobia. As a white person I appreciate a book that reminds its audience that slavery was not long ago. It’s truthful and raw and I wept and smiled and healed all the way through this book.
As a person who does not maintain a relationship with her father due to his outdated views, my inner child longed for these words.
Take away: My therapist told me the other day that it is perfectly acceptable to
- Feel guilty that my dad misses me. I know he loves me, and I also know he is a product of generational trauma. It’s so hard to just sit by and feel guilty for a person who hurt me so badly. But that is okay. It is okay to understand why he did the things he did.
- It is also okay to not forgive him for his actions. Generational trauma does not excuse behavior.
- It is okay to mourn what our relationship could have been, while simultaneously feeling freedom from no relationship. Admittedly, I make up apologies. I pretend that he feels guilty and that he understands everything he did wrong, and I imagine him apologizing because that brings me peace. Do I think he actually has remorse? Probably not. Still going to pretend he does so that I can sleep peacefully at night.
A Black father makes amends with his gay son through letters written on his deathbed in this wise and penetrating novel of empathy and forgiveness.
As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extends back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob’s tumultuous relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries form the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob’s role as a father and his reaction to Isaac’s being gay.
But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace.
With the piercing insight and profound empathy, acclaimed author Daniel Black illuminates the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons, offering an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation. Spare as it is sweeping, poetic as it is compulsively readable, Don’t Cry for Me is a monumental novel about one family grappling with love’s hard edges and the unexpected places where hope and healing take flight.
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