Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread

5.0 1
by Jackie Alexander
     
 

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From renowned playwright Jackie Alexander comes a captivating, masterfully told coming-of-age novel of a young man struggling through his haunting past to discover and save himself.

Stigmatized at birth due to his interracial parentage and reared in a household poisoned by domestic abuse, Kevin Matthews is orphaned at age ten after losing his mother to a violent

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Overview

From renowned playwright Jackie Alexander comes a captivating, masterfully told coming-of-age novel of a young man struggling through his haunting past to discover and save himself.

Stigmatized at birth due to his interracial parentage and reared in a household poisoned by domestic abuse, Kevin Matthews is orphaned at age ten after losing his mother to a violent attack at the hands of his father, who is jailed for the crime. Raised by his paternal grandfather, a Baptist Minister who instills values of the church as a base for recovery, Kevin is content with life in rural Louisiana during the 1970s until disturbing news surfaces regarding his mother's attack—news that sheds doubt on his father's guilt, and leads Kevin to relive painful memories. As Kevin grows up, the emotional scars of his childhood cast dark clouds over his relationships with women, and his life begins to spiral out of control. Faced with losing all that he loves, Kevin is forced to confront the man who holds the key to his salvation, his father.

Our Daily Bread is a rich and compelling coming-of-age story of a young boy whose journey takes us from the bayous of Louisiana to the big city lights of New York and Paris. Examining family, race, religion, and the lingering effects of domestic abuse, Our Daily Bread questions what defines one's legacy: the surroundings we are born into, or the choices we make thereafter.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“Engaging in its lyricism and piercingly honest . . . Alexander’s voice is distinctive, fluid, and captivating. His keen sense and talent for dialogue; his narrative style, simple but profound; and his humor make Our Daily Bread compelling and irresistible.” —Mohammed Naseehu Ali, author of The Prophet of Zongo Street

“Alexander’s characters stay with you long after reading the last page of Our Daily Bread, so much so that you miss them and find yourself wondering how they’re doing in life. With dialogue so skillfully constructed that conversations feel as if they are being eavesdropped on rather than read, this story becomes a part of you.” —Jill Sorensen, founder of Knock-Out Abuse

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596528956
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/25/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
252
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Our Daily Bread


By Jackie Alexander

Turner

Copyright © 2012 Jackie Alexander
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781596528956

Thirteen is a rough age for a child, and if you’re a child of scandal, it’s nearly unbearable. Such was my life on Sunday, September 8, 1974, the day before I started eighth grade. My paternal grandfather was raising me; my grandmother passed away when I was three, and although both my parents were alive, neither was in a position to care for me. My mother was living as an invalid in a nursing home after suffering a vicious beating, reportedly at the hands of my father. I say “reportedly” because this was a story my grandfather never believed, despite my father’s conviction.

“My boy ain’t had nothing to do with what happened to Sarah, I can tell you that as sure as I’m standing here,” he insisted.

My father received a life sentence in Angola State Penitentiary. His fate was an ironic one since life in Angola was the nightmarish threat he reserved for me upon any infraction of his numerous house rules.

“What’s wrong with you, Boy?” he’d roar. “You wanna end up in Angola? They’ll lock your ass up for life and make a punk out of a skinny little runt like you!”

These threats had scared me, but at the time I was too young to understand their full implications. At thirteen, now grasping the true meaning behind his words, I wondered what life in Angola would make of my father.

My mother’s parents disowned her when she married my father, because she was white, and he was black. It disturbed me that parents would disown their child solely based on who she loved. More disturbing was the justify cation of this action I overheard adults express.

“You can’t blame them, embarrassing the family like that,” they snickered.

My mother’s present condition miraculously healed all wounds with her parents, although it didn’t change the way they felt about me. I occasionally ran into them when I visited Mama in the nursing home, but it was clear to me I shouldn’t expect any birthday cards.

“She ain’t doing too well today, so don’t stay too long,” Mrs. Boutte coldly informed my grandfather and me on one of our monthly visits.

Mr. and Mrs. Boutte was how I addressed my mother’s parents. I could never bring myself to call them Grandma or Grandpa, which they didn’t seem to mind. Mrs. Boutte was a short gaunt woman with dark brown hair and freckled leathery skin, who wore a frown as a constant expression. I remember Mama commenting on how attractive her mother was as a young girl, but the harshness of Mrs. Boutte’s current appearance robbed her of any beauty. Mr. Boutte was a tall lanky man, with unusually dark skin for a white person. His attire always consisted of snakeskin cowboy boots, an oversized silver belt buckle, and a green John Deere cap. Throughout my childhood he appeared to be rendered speechless by the sight of me; I never heard the man speak a word. Normally on our encounters he just averted his eyes, grimacing as if suddenly struck with intense pain.

Continues...

Excerpted from Our Daily Bread by Jackie Alexander Copyright © 2012 by Jackie Alexander. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“Engaging in its lyricism and piercingly honest . . . Alexander’s voice is distinctive, fluid, and captivating. His keen sense and talent for dialogue; his narrative style, simple but profound; and his humor make Our Daily Bread compelling and irresistible.” —Mohammed Naseehu Ali, author of The Prophet of Zongo Street

“Alexander’s characters stay with you long after reading the last page of Our Daily Bread, so much so that you miss them and find yourself wondering how they’re doing in life. With dialogue so skillfully constructed that conversations feel as if they are being eavesdropped on rather than read, this story becomes a part of you.” —Jill Sorensen, founder of Knock-Out Abuse

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