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After Clara drowns, the river is never the same, and Johnnie Mae hovers on the edge of womanhood wondering if she'll be able to get past her guilt and emptiness. In an eloquent passage, Clarke writes, "Losing a loved one, a family member, is like losing a tooth. After a while, those teeth remaining shift and lean and spread out to split the distance between themselves and the other teeth still left, trying to close up spaces."
Bits of wisdom like this are the book's charm. Most remarkable are the church scenes, which Clarke renders almost purely in the give-and-take of voices: the booming preacher's sermon ("The people we love, we only borrowing them"), and the congregation's "Praise Jesus, Amen" exclamations. The author based her novel on stories passed down in Georgetown--tales of that area's first black churches, founded when people decided they wanted their own place of worship, and implicitly their own God. In church the novel takes flight. Elsewhere River, Cross My Heart suffers from clumsy, purple prose, and a plot that moves forward in labored fits and starts. Clarke painstakingly tries to re-create this past world, but sometimes it seems her duty to history is holding her back, bogging her down in period-piece details. In the effortless church scenes, history loses its gravity and is absorbed by grace. --Emily White
the book its self is fine but i really did not like it but i had to read it for school.Published 1 month ago by sarah
This book was recommended by a friend because of the interest I life of Washington DC at the turn of the century. It was very descriptive of that life. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mash
A great let down! I wanted to live this book but it just lacked depth. I felt as if I were floating in the surface the whole time instead of diving in!Published 3 months ago by Pen Name
This is my second reading. The writing is so genuine that one believes the author actually lived the story. Read morePublished 3 months ago by timothea kingston
Unless you really need to read books like this for "self value", don't bother. No strong plot - not a "great" read. Don't waste your time - there are so many great books to read!Published 4 months ago by Fiddlenan
I thought the author did a great job of pulling you into the world of a pre-adolescent black girl in that time period with many historical references to provide context. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Judycoco
I liked the historical aspects of the book set in Georgetown in the 1920's in a black neighborhood.
The book was very short and poor little Johnnie Mae is haunted thru out the... Read more
Johnnie Mae, a twelve-year-old living near Washington, D.C. in the 1920's, is in charge of watching her six-year-old sister, Clara. Johnnie is a bit disgruntled by her life. Read morePublished on November 6, 2010 by A. Luciano
My library runs the gamut and this has to be the most stupid book I've ever read. No plot, no conclusion, no real insight to racism. Read morePublished on June 23, 2010 by Patricia A. Mcbride