Redemption Song: A Novel

Redemption Song: A Novel

4.9 31
by Bertice Berry

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Owner of a small African-American bookshop, Miss Cozy has an unique gift: Customers who walk through her door rarely leave without a book that speaks directly to their life. But when Josephine--"Fina"--and Ross arrive in search of an obscure, unpublished manuscript written by a slave woman, Miss Cozy knows that all her visions have been leading her to this magical day


Owner of a small African-American bookshop, Miss Cozy has an unique gift: Customers who walk through her door rarely leave without a book that speaks directly to their life. But when Josephine--"Fina"--and Ross arrive in search of an obscure, unpublished manuscript written by a slave woman, Miss Cozy knows that all her visions have been leading her to this magical day.

Yet Miss Cozy has no intention of selling the manuscript--no matter the price. So she offers Fina and Ross an alternative. They can read it together at the store. It was not what they hoped for, but their interest in the extraordinary love story is about as strong as their uncanny attraction for one another . . . one they both sense runs much deeper than a kiss. In the course of a few days, Fina and Ross realize that this powerful book has special meaning for the two of them--and that the path to their shared future may be linked to something that happened more than a century ago. . . .

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Tamara Henry
Bertice Berry's Redemption Song, the reading is fun and entertaining but also enlightening....Uses a simple love story to drive home the importance of understanding one's history.
USA Today
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Comedian and inspirational speaker Berry (Sckraight from the Ghetto) makes a tear-tugging fiction debut with this slim romantic fable about connections across generations. Neighbors Josephine "Fina" Chambers and Ross Buchanan meet serendipitously when they reach simultaneously for the only known copy of a slave woman's journal at a celebrated bookstore devoted to works by black authors. Proprietor Cosina Brown, Miss Cozy to her friends, refuses to sell the valuable book to either customer, but she suspects each has a legitimate reason for wanting it, and convinces the two of them to read it aloud to each other at her shop. The story may hold keys to issues in each of their lives: Fina has buried herself in work since her father's death two years earlier, and is unable to sustain a relationship. Ross, an anthropologist specializing in urban myths, wants to prove the narrative is more than a legend and come to terms with his troubled past by unearthing a tale of enduring love. As Fina and Ross read the diary, with Miss Cozy hovering nearby, the saga of slaves Iona and Joe, separated by circumstances, unites the trio. Written by Iona, who was granted the gift of spontaneous literacy, the diary tells of familiar indignities and injustices of slavery. It concludes with the account of a tragedy, but Miss Cozy's psychic insight leads her to believe that the end of the diary is not the end of the story. Her powers of perception bring the trio to a spiritual affirmation of love and what Miss Cozy calls a Recipe for Life. Berry's premise is interesting, but the rapid intimacy between Fina and Ross strains credulity, as do the frequent coincidences that advance the plot. Readers of inspirational fiction may enjoy this combination of sentimental love story and black history, however. Agent, Victoria Sanders. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This first novel from inspirational speaker and author Berry (Bertice: The World According to Me) is a modern love story with a spiritual base centered on the black experience. Ad executive Fina Chambers and anthropology professor Ross Buchanan are after the same item in the Black Images bookstore: a slave woman's memory book, known as Children of Grace. Since bookstore owner Miss Cozy senses something special about these two, she has them read the manuscript to each other and joins in herself. The revelations of this trio are interspersed with sections from the memory book recounting slave Iona's rape, torture, and murder and her undying love for fellow slave Joe. Berry has clearly poured her heart into this smooth-as-silk paean to black love, so a bit of preachiness at the end can be forgiven. While the message is intended for the African American community, Iona's charge--"to love, to forgive, to never forget"--is applicable to all.--Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
From the Publisher
"A simple love story to drive home the importance of understanding one's history . . . Entertaining but also enlightening."
—USA Today

"A TENDER LOVE STORY THAT SPANS GENERATIONS . . . Redemption Song leaves you wanting more."
—The Orlando Sentinel

"COMPELLING . . . THOUGHT-PROVOKING . . . Filled with life lessons wrapped in mother wit and family lore."
—The Dallas Morning News


Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

You Make Me Feel Like Myself

Ross Buchanan was in front of Black Images bookstore at seven-thirty in the morning; he was on a mission. He knew the bookstore didn't open until eight o'clock but he wanted to be there when the owner, Cosina Brown, opened her doors. He'd been there before to pick up what he called a "popular culture book.'' As an anthropologist, he spent most of his time looking for artifacts or in university libraries digging around in the stacks. Modern books by modern writers were rarely on his agenda. Miss Cozy's bookstore sold its share of New York Times bestsellers, but Black Images also specialized in rare, hard-to-find books. Ross wasn't a regular like most of Miss Cozy's other customers, but today, Ross Buchanan sat on the bench in front of Black Images hoping for a miracle. While he waited, he unfolded the copy of an old letter he always carried with him.

Dear Iona,

I write to you, but I know you won't be gettin this. I be free for going on five years now. But I ain't truly free, cause I ain't with you. Mr. Sanders, the man who help me get free, say, maybe I can buy you free, too. I'm a try. Cause what good is this freedom, if I ain't free to love you?

I guess I'm just writin cause I can. Mr. Sanders, he teach me that, too. I'm a write again tomorrow, maybe them stars you be talkin to will tell you what this say.

I love you, you make me feel like myself.


Ross refolded the worn copy of the old letter and closed his eyes and said a prayer: "Please God, let Miss Cozy know something about Children of Grace. Amen.''


Seek Peace, Find Love

Ross Buchanan had finally taken a sabbatical fromteaching anthropology after ten long years. He was one of the best professors at one of the best universities, but he needed to be much more than that. While he was working on his Ph.D., he'd heard about an enslaved man named Joe who'd written letters to a woman he was sold away from. The letters never reached her. It was said that all but the one he held had been destroyed. The woman Iona had also written about this love in a memory book called Children of Grace.

Finding that book was extremely important to Ross. Unfortunately, many of his colleagues didn't share his enthusiasm. Tom Brandon, one of the country's most prominent physical anthropologists and Ross's colleague and supposed buddy had wondered why Ross would spend time surveying slavery. And he certainly couldn't understand anyone investigating love and slavery at the same time. Ross hadn't expected this reaction. He was disappointed but not at all daunted. He understood that most blacks hadn't thought of the love that existed during slavery either. But just as he was about to determine a topic for his dissertation research, he came upon an old article in a small black newspaper about a woman who said her great-grandmother had owned a book about a powerful story of love--a slave story, about love. Ross suspected the book was Children of Grace. He tried to track down the woman who wrote the article but couldn't; the small newspaper had folded and Ross's attempts to find the woman through local information came up empty. Anyone else would have been disappointed, but Ross Buchanan had had a childhood that he could truly measure disappointment by, so he was not swayed. Now that he knew he was on the right track all he had to do was wait for his train to come in.

But now Ross would take a leave of absence to do what he considered his life's work. He would delve into the subject of black love from past to present. The history of black love was certainly an underdeveloped area of research, and so was slavery, but he felt that Children of Grace would give him a better perspective on both. Ross's work was purely academic--he was, after all, a rational man, but still he hoped and prayed that Miss Cozy could help him. This "Love Project," as he'd started to call it, may have been based in logic, but it would require his faith.

Ross had always been overly serious; his early childhood hadn't given him anything to be frivolous about. He'd been shuttled back and forth from foster home to foster home until he was in his early teens, when he found a permanent home. Young Ross didn't really understand love or what it meant to have a family. His childhood had been rough, then comfortable, then over, right when he was learning how to be a child. He remembered little of his life before coming to his last foster home. But what he remembered had not been good, so he tried to forget that, too.

Over the years, Ross had learned that trying to forget something painful is like trying to ignore yourself: You're always there, and so is the pain. For a while, his painful past was a part of him, it was all he could see. His scars were both physical and emotional. At one foster home, his foster mother's boyfriend had scalded Ross. The left side of his chest and shoulder still bore the mark of what the man had said was an accident. But once Ross was inside the emergency room, he told the doctor what had really happened. Ross thought for sure that his foster mother would put the boyfriend out, and then hold the little boy and tell him how sorry she was. Instead, he learned the meaning behind the old folks' saying "If wishes were horses, everybody would ride.'' The woman called Ross stupid and said he had caused her to lose her money and her man.

What People are saying about this

E. Lynn Harris
E. Lynn Harris, author of Abide With Me

A love song to book lovers and booksellers everywhere.
Connie Briscoe
Connie Briscoe

A sparkling, heartfelt debut and a compelling read.

Meet the Author

Bertice Berry is a sociologist, comedian and inspirational speaker. She is also the author of three nonfiction books, including I'm On My Way But Your Foot Is On My Head: A Black Woman's Story of Getting Over Life's Hurdles; Sckraight from the Ghetto: You Know You're Ghetto If...; and You Still Ghetto: You Know You're Still Ghetto If... She lives in California, where she is raising her sister's three children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Redemption Song 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a book I bought at Walmart. The cover/title caught my attention in 2001. I read half of it and misplaced my copy. After finding and finishing it in 2003, I realized it was a lesson from the past and future that gives you something to really think about. I recommend this book to all women of color. It is an easy, quick, and powerful read! It would be a good discussion book for your book club.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a outstanding book! Although it was a quick read, it captured me, making me want the book to go on forever! I loved it...and I think you will too! You've gotta get it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a white person....but its because its hard that it should be done. Its a wonderful story and a reminder of the power of love to heal all wounds. The only thing holding us back from true change is our minds and our own selfishness. Great story that should be read at once.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an easy but amazing read that can be applied today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LIV2read More than 1 year ago
This story, about a young man and woman who meet while looking for the same rare book, is so well written it's a work of art. I loved it. There is another story within the story. I don't like to tell too much of the details, but it was quirky, cute and also serious. And I love the character of Ms. Cozy. This is one of my favorite books to give as a gift and everyone loves it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Redemption Song was a great book. When you first started reading it you think its' a childs book but the more your read it the more your intriqued and it's hard to put down. I started this book late last night and finished it this afternoon. Great thought provoking book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is EXCELLENT. I started reading and thought it was nothing but then when i got into it I didn't want to stop or put the book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Berry spoke at the Convocation for my school District today and I have never been so moved and inspired to start the school year! She was witty, intelligent, and awe-inspiring. Not only is she a best-selling author, she's a warm, and passionate speaker with a message. She began and ended her speech with a song! Buy her books, then book her to speek to Your group. I will never forget her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the story. Especially Miss Cozy she is the very heart and soul of the story
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read...a lot! I heard Dr. Berry speak at a conference and bought her book on site. I read it in my hotel room that night. It is a beautiful, spiritual, heart book. I have shared it with many friends because it speaks to the soul. It remains on my list of Best Books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After hearing Bertice speak at a conference in Austin, I knew I had to purchase the book. This book got into my soul. It moved me to the point that I had to read it again immediately after I finished it the first time. So much truth. If you like reading shallow books that just skim the surface, this book is not for you. This book will take you to the depths of your very soul and will shake you and challenge you to discover truth, seek peace, find love, and fulfill prophecy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn¿t put Redemption Song down¿I read it in one sitting and recommend it to everyone¿especially those of African American descent. The story is centered around Josephine Chambers, a successful business executive and Ross Buchanan, a scholar pursuing his PhD in Anthropology. They ¿accidentally¿ meet at the Black Images Bookstore in search of the very rare book entitled Children of Grace. While in the store, both discover the book at the same time, which lead the wise proprietress, Ms. Cozy, to referee a joint reading session between the two. Over the next few days, the voice of their ancestor speaks to them and discloses timeless wisdom, acts of courage, love, selflessness, and hope onto the couple. I don¿t want to reveal too much, but I¿d like to say the author weaves an inspiration and heart touching tale that includes a message, ¿The Recipe of Life¿, that we can all heed and embrace. I initially borrowed this book from the public library, but will procure a copy for my personal library. It is one I will present as gifts for my family and friends to perpetuate the message. It is now on my all-time favorites list. This was an outstanding peace of work¿truly inspiring, motivational, uplifting. A must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book literally gave me chills! When I wasn't blinking back the tears, I was laughing out loud. This is a quick read, but a powerful one. I recommend it for book clubs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
redemption song was a wonderful story about finding love at time when it was unimaginable, it's a story finding true love when you're not really looking for it and it's a story about finding the purpose in your life. I gave this story a rating of 4 instead of a 5 because I hated that it was over. redemption song was a fast read (I read it in 4 hours) but I learned a lot in those 4 hours. I was fascinated at all the revelations that were revealed to me. There is a saying that big things can come in small packages and that was true with this book. So if you haven't read this book before I suggest you find a little time to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never read anything so uplifting to date. I am a sixteen year old female who enjoys reading, very much. I just happened to pick up this book with a young lady on the cover. I was amazed at how much the young lady's hands favored my very own. This was one of the reasons I picked it up. Overall this book is amzing, and I hope many young people like myself get an oppurtunity to read it and enjoy it like I did!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book goes beyond a 'MUST READ'. This book is a 'MUST GIVE AS A GIFT TO EVERYONE'. The story stirs the soul. As soon as I finished reading this book, I went back to the front and read it again!!!!! From start to finish the story will hold and mesmerize you. I have never felt compelled to tell everyone about a book as I have with this book. Buy it, read it, and get a few copies to share! Congratulations to Bertice Berry for a job very well done. If I could, I would thank her for writing this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Redemption Song is an inspiring story of how strong love truly is, and that it can exist no matter how cruel the environment. This book brought tears to my eyes as it will to yours if you read it with an open heart and mind. This quick and easy read combines some elements of mysticism while giving insight into the plight of two enslaved Africans, and how their love found each other again. I only wish there was further detail about the part of the book that describes the future of the African-American race.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never been left so emotionally drained yet uplifted and inspired by a book before. The characters seemed so real! My hats off to Ms. Berry for writing a book that should be read by all....
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is beautiful. From the creative story line to the sepia toned feel of it. It is a love story that doesn't lead us to the cheap, soap operatice style of most. Dr. Berry's book is a quick read, but lush and deep and oh so sweet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel touches the deepest part of your soul, by allowing you to become emotionally connected the Iona's story. A classic love story that passes through several generations, until it reaches it's true destination. I look forward to suggesting this powerful message to my book club members, for it will definetly inspire a stimulating decision.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the story centers around the black culture, the lessons to be learned are universal. The lush intense language hits every emotion as you become one with the characters. If you are looking to be entertained this is the book. If you are looking for guidance, this is the book. If you are looking for enlightenment, this is the book. This powerful story refuels your desire to dream and know that dreams can be more than imagination. You will know you were meant to read this book when you have finished it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most creative story I've ever read. It was poetic, articulate, graceful, but most of all it was believeable. I felt the love, the pain and I wept openly. Beatice Berry my sister, rock on!!!!