Finding Makebaby Alexs D. Pate
Ben Crestfield never meant to become one of those African-American men all the statistics talk about: the ones who father children and disappear. He loved his beautiful wife, Helen, with all his heart, and his daughter, Makeba, was his greatest joy. Ben also had dreams, and talent. He wanted to be a writer, to make a difference, to tell the kinds of stories that never… See more details below
Ben Crestfield never meant to become one of those African-American men all the statistics talk about: the ones who father children and disappear. He loved his beautiful wife, Helen, with all his heart, and his daughter, Makeba, was his greatest joy. Ben also had dreams, and talent. He wanted to be a writer, to make a difference, to tell the kinds of stories that never seem to get told. But Helen wanted a house, another baby...Ben felt the soft vines of her love wrap around his neck until he gasped for breath. And so one night, as Makeba played with her stuffed toys and tried to sleep after all the shouting, Ben tiptoed into her room and said good-bye. That was the end, for Ben. His knowledge of his own failure - such a predictable, contemptible failure - built a wall of shame that he thought would keep him from his wife and child forever. He lived alone and wrote. Ben was right about his talent. He sold a novel. His publisher sent him on tour. He sat in bookstores, signing copies, and one day looked up to see a girl facing him. "Sign it for Makeba Crestfield," she said, and Ben recognized his own soft features, his own warm brown skin. As father and daughter struggle to speak the truth to each other, they work toward spiritual healing and toward becoming a family for each other.
In the prologue, 19-year-old Makeba Crestfield shows up at a crowded book signing in Philadelphia; when she finally reaches the front of the line, she confronts the authorfor the very good reason that it's her long-lost father who, Makeba thinks, walked out on her a decade before. The rest of the narrative alternates between the background story of Makeba's father, Ben, and her mother, Helen, and entries from the journal Makeba has kept while reading her father's autobiographical novel about fatherhood and about a lifetime spent away from the daughter he supposedly loves. We learn that Ben and Helen met at a Valentine's Day party in 1975, fell in love, and, when Helen got pregnant months later, married. At the time, Ben was an aspiring writer; as soon as he and Helen marry, he finds himself torn between his soon-to-be family and his all-consuming career. After Makeba is born, the tension between Ben and Helenwho resents the fact that Ben can't make a full commitment to marriage or fatherhoodreaches the breaking point, and Ben leaves for a few days to clear his head. When he returns, Helen and Makeba are gone; he doesn't see his daughter again until she appears at his signing. Lena, Helen's mother (who has mystical powers), plays a significant role; for the most part, however, Pate focuses on the misunderstandings and lack of communication that are hallmarks of most broken unions.
A topical but effectively engrossing read by an author with the ability to say things in a new way.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.25(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.74(d)
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