Redemption Songby Bertice Berry
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 But when Josephine"Fina"and Ross arrive in search of an obscure, unpublished manuscript written by a slave woman, Miss Cozy knows that all her visions have been leading her to… See more details below
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 But when Josephine"Fina"and Ross arrive in search of an obscure, unpublished manuscript written by a slave woman, Miss Cozy knows that all her visions have been leading her to this magical day.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 manuscriptno 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 themand that the path to their shared future may be linked to something that happened more than a century ago. . . .
- 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.
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 asabbatical from teaching 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.
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A love song to book lovers and booksellers everywhere.
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