It’s been about 25 years since I first read “The Women of Brewster Place” by Gloria Naylor. Nevertheless, this contemporary novel left enough impact on me to recommend it as a novel worth reading.
“The Women of Brewster Place” is a fictional novel that focuses on the diverse attitudes and experiences of seven African-American women living in a deteriorated building located on a dead-end street.
The characters and their conflicts are:
Mattie Michael. As the matriarch of the story, she comforts her fellow neighbors and friends while mentally blocking out her own heartbreaks.
Etta Mae Johnson. A worldly woman, Etta Mae seeks a settled life and love with the wrong man.
Kiswana Browne. Kiswana is a privileged young woman rejecting her middle class upbringing. Instead, she chooses to live in impoverished Brewster Place, determined to help its residents improve their lives.
Cora Lee. Cora is a single mother. Her obsession with dolls leads to her having multiple children. She treats her babies like dolls until they get older, at which time, she becomes an irresponsible parent towards them.
Ciel Turner. Ciel is a wife and mother living in denial about her troubled marriage.
Miss Sophie. An evil old woman, Miss Sophie tells everyone’s business.
Lorraine. Lorraine is a lesbian who worries that other people will find out about her sexuality. Her insecurity has caused her and her lover to move numerous times.
Theresa. Theresa is Lorraine’s lover. Unlike Lorraine, she doesn’t care who discovers her sexuality. She’s at her wit’s end with Lorraine’s insecurity over this matter.
Each woman must reach within herself to change. In addition, a tragedy brings these women together, thus, building their rage to the point of making a change within their community.
My favorite character is Mattie. I like her because she’s the rock in the community despite having her own issues. She doesn’t allow her pain to stop her from being comforting to others. She’s the voice of reason in the story – and a good one. (By the way, Mattie Michael is wonderfully played by Oprah Winfrey in the book’s TV version 25 years ago, in case you’ve forgotten or didn’t know).
The character most relatable to me is Mattie. She reminds me of a close relative. She’s endured a lot, yet she blocks out her pain. She doesn’t want to talk about her pain – even though it haunts her mind continually. It’s like she believes that if she doesn’t talk about it, it will go away.
There’s nothing about this book that I would change. I think Ms. Naylor did an excellent job of showing the inner and outer challenges these women faced in their daily lives. It is a story that, though published in 1982, can still be valid in today’s world.
So, if you’re looking for a good contemporary read this spring or upcoming summer, “The Women of Brewster Place” is definitely the one.
If you’ve read this book, what are your thoughts about it? Please feel free to share by commenting in the box below (scroll down).
Also, please be kind in sharing this post with others.
Until next time, have a great week!
Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, please click the “Subscribe” button in the left column to subscribe to this blog’s RSS.