Monday, February 18, 2013
Bringing the Great Migration to Life
I enjoyed Anaya Mathis' debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which follows the lives of Hattie Shepherd and all of her children. The Great Migration took place from 1910 to 1930, and was characterized by millions of African Americans moving from the rural South to the urban Northeast in search of opportunity and to no longer be subject to segregation. In this book, Hattie moves at the age of fifteen from Georgia to Philadelphia. She has her first children (twins) at the age of seventeen and lives a life of hardship and making ends meet by the skin of her teeth and the strength of her character. I enjoyed the narrative structure, wherein the chapters are essentially interwoven vignettes of Hattie's different children and the very different paths they end up taking in their lives. This is a story of grit, courage, the strength of familial bonds, and the sacrifice and challenge of motherhood. This would be an interesting book to read coupled with Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns, which I hope to read soon.