Wantin by Truth Devour

wantin

 

Wantin by Truth Devour is the story of the physical and emotional journey of Talia Temperance. Devour begins the novel with a powerful, emotional, and evocative scene between two lovers that sets the stage for a poignant story about a young woman trying to figure out where she belongs.

At six years old, Talia lives in Haiti while her parents are traveling. She is left in the care of a nanny. One day, Talia learns through an intense, religious, voodoo ceremony that her parents have died. She finds out from the authorities some days later and is handed over to her Aunt Runt and Uncle Shane. At such a young age, Talia never knew her parents, so she feels adrift without familial connection. She does feel emotionally connected to Ruth, Shane, and their children, but does not know her foundations.

After falling in love with someone she cannot have and then finding out her parents left her independently wealthy, at the age of twenty-one, Talia begins to travel the world—to run away from her feelings, to escape emotional pain, but also to learn of her ancestry and find a connection to her parents.

Devour writes a novel that is visually striking without using visuals. Her words paint vivid pictures of the numerous places Talia visits, as well as her emotional state of mind. The formatting and editing of the book are up to par, meaning that the reader can be drawn into the prose without being confused as to who is speaking and about what. The cover lends to the visual, visceral nature of the novel. It is visually striking, beautiful, as well as enigmatic. From the cover, the reader knows as little about Talia as she seems to know about herself.

If the reader is looking for a novel for purely entertainment purposes, she will not be let down. The story is interesting and the characters are engaging. If the reader is looking for a novel that provides insight into life, love, and self-awareness, she will get that as well. Wantin is all-around enjoyable.

Split at the Root by Catana Tully

Book Cover (3)Split at the Root by Catana Tully is an intricate study of self-identity, social influences, and familial ties. The first story Catana can remember is one Mutti, her German mother, tells about her “birth.” Mutti tells Catana that she floated down the river on a leaf, and that, in that moment, Mutti knew Catana was hers to keep. This is just one of many “fairytales” that Mutti tells Catana about her life (and her history).

Catana was born to Rosa, a Black woman, in Livingston. However, she was raised by a White, German woman, who called her “Mohrle,” or “little Moor.” Catana grows up in a White household, treated as a privileged White. As such, she is uncomfortable around people of color and even begins to hate her birth mother. Throughout her life, she struggles with issues of race, identity, and prejudice. Mutti refuses to acknowledge the deeper issues, preferring to mold Catana into a likable, competent woman, who has “the right frame.”

Catana decides to flout her education and become an actress. Along the way, she meets Fred, and they fall in love and marry. All her life, Catana has been surrounded by White people. She knows next to nothing about her birth mother and even less about her father and the rest of her biological family. On a trip back to her birth village, she begins to get hints that Mutti may not have been telling her the whole truth—words like “stolen child” are thrown around in context to Mutti and Catana’s relationship. As Catana digs deeper, she uncovers secrets about her heritage and her upbringing. Along the way, she must confront her racial identity and all that goes with it.

Tully’s memoir is extremely detailed. She begins with her first memories and continues to the present day. By the end of the tale, it is as if the reader is a part of the family that Catana is trying to piece together. Her story is emotional—full of love, laughter, and even fear. The reader will watch Catana grow up and find her own identity. The story is impossible to put down as Catana attempts to unravel the complicated mystery that surrounds her biological family. It takes many years for her to learn the truth and just as long, maybe longer, for her to know herself. It may be a memoir, but at points, it reads like a detective novel. Even though it is one woman’s life and history, it touches on important racial, societal, and personal identity issues.