In Berry's first novel, Redemption Song, a contemporary love story unfolds as a pair of young strangers share reading the only extant copy of a slave narrative, the work of a woman who experienced deep love for a fellow slave and savage treatment from her owner. "When I named the evil slave owner," Berry explains in this memoir, referring to her novel, "I gave him the name of the man who owned the [Delaware] plantation that my family had lived on." Berry's mother had told her that "Granddaddy said John Hunn was a good man," but Berry met such reports with utter disbelief. Her memoir is an act of contrition toward "the man whose name I tried to tarnish" as well as a journey of self-discovery and self-education as she uncovers the historical Hunn-indeed, "a good man.... a Quaker who risked life and limb in the fight for abolition" and "the southernmost conductor of the Underground Railroad." Berry weaves abolitionist history with autobiography (her single mother's struggle to raise a family of seven children; her own finding "a way out of poverty through education"). Berry's competently researched book, with its sprinklings of history, folklore and scripture along with a motivational thrust ("We are all born with a purpose, a journey that must be completed"), provide an accessible, readable introduction for others "saddened... that none of this history had been made part of my education." (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemptionby Bertice Berry
When novelist Bertice Berry set out to write a history of her family, she initially believed she’d uncover a story of slavery and black pain, but the deeper she dug, the more surprises she found. There was heartache, yes, but also something unexpected: hope. Peeling away the layers, Berry came to learn that the history of slavery cannot be quantified in simple, black-and-white terms of “good” and “evil” but is rather a complex tapestry of roles and relations, of choices and individual responsibility.
In this poignant, reflective memoir, Berry skillfully relays the evolution of relations between the races, from slavery to Reconstruction, from the struggles of the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power 1970s, and on to the present day. In doing so, she sheds light on a picture of the past that not only liberates but also unites and evokes the need to forgive and be forgiven.
In researching this memoir, poet/novelist Berry discovered that many of her assumptions about her African American family's history were incorrect. In particular, the Delaware man who owned the farm where her relatives lived was no villain-he was an active member of the abolitionist movement who risked everything to preserve blacks from slavery. Historians and the general public will love this provocative story.
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Meet the Author
Bertice Berry, Ph.D., is a highly-sought-after motivational speaker to women’s groups, book clubs, and Fortune 500 corporations. She is the author of the novels Redemption Song, The Haunting of Hip Hop, Jim and Louella’s Homemade Heart-Fix Remedy, and When Love Calls, You Better Answer. She lives in Richmond Hill, Georgia.
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