The novel tells the story of each of Hattie’s 11 children and one grandchild over a period spanning 1925 to 1980 with Hattie and her husband, August, as the only continuing presence in each chapter. Beginning with Hattie as a 17-year-old mother of twins in Philadelphia, two years after her father died in Georgia and shortly after her mother’s death, the story’s early chapters remind the audience of just how late into the century Jim Crow laws were enforced. The latter chapters illustrate how much change is still needed for the remnants of discrimination and inequality to be erased.
In contrast to many of the other reviewers, I enjoyed this book very much. The chapter-by-chapter change in point of view emphasized the differences in the experiences of Hattie’s children more effectively than stringing the chapters together from a single point of view could have. It is a family story as well as the story of a baker’s dozen individuals, each with challenges to overcome and dreams to fulfill or let go of.