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The Darkest Child: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Delores Phillips
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (375 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white. Her ten children are mostly light, too. They constitute the only world she rules and controls. Her power over them is all she has in an otherwise cruel and uncaring universe.

Rozelle favors her light-skinned kids, but Tangy Mae, 13, her darkest-complected child, is the brightest. She desperately wants to continue with her education. Her mother, however, has other plans. Rozelle wants her daughter to work cleaning houses for whites, like she does, and accompany her to the “Farmhouse,” where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Tangy Mae, she’s decided, is of age.

This is the story from an era when life’s possibilities for an African-American were unimaginably different.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Phillips's searing debut reveals the poverty, injustices and cruelties that one black family suffers—some of this at the hands of its matriarch—in a 1958 backwater Georgia town. Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn loves her mother, Rozelle, but knows there's "something wrong" with her—which, as it soon becomes clear, is an extreme understatement. As the novel opens, Rozelle is getting ready to give birth to her 10th child (by a 10th father) and thinking about forcing the obedient Tangy Mae, who longs to stay in school, to take over her housecleaning job. Using a large cast of powerfully drawn characters, Phillips captures life in a town that serves as a microcosm of a world on the brink of change. There's Junior, the perpetual optimist, who wants to teach people to read and write so they can understand the injustices of Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan; Hambone, a here today/gone tomorrow rabble-rouser whose anger against white men and their laws inflames those around him; and Miss Pearl, the only true friend to the Quinn family. At the dark heart of the story is Rozelle, the beautiful mixed-race head of the Quinn family whose erratic mood swings, heart-wrenching cruelty and deep emotional distress leave an indelible mark on all her children. Through all the violence and hardship breathes the remarkable spirit of Tangy Mae, who is wise beyond her years; forced to do unspeakable things by her mother and discriminated against by the town's whites, she manages to survive and to rescue a younger sister from the same fate.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"THE DARKEST CHILD is a fierce and bitter story, told with striking authority. Delores Phillips has created a family and a town rich with resonant voices, all of them caught up in struggles both personal and public, and a mother so wildly commanding she earns a place beside some of the great madwomen who embitter the lives of the children who love them." -Rosellen Brown -- Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 610 KB
  • Print Length: 397 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1569473781
  • Publisher: Soho Press (January 1, 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HYHB4S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,616 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
97 of 102 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stand-out debut novel January 11, 2004
Remember the 70's television comedy called Good Times? It seemed good things rarely happened to the Evans family and you frequently found yourself wishing for something great to happen that would whisk them out of their unfortunate existence. Well, The Darkest Child is like the literary equivalent of Good Times, except this story takes place in a house on Penyon Road, somewhere in the state of Georgia during the late 50's. And this time the sorrows and afflictions experienced by the family comes at the hand of the mother, Rosie, a woman who inflicted so much abuse on her ten kids that you cannot keep up.
The story is narrated by Tangy Mae, a fifteen year-old woman/child that the mother labels as ugly. The mother sleeps with men, chain smokes, drinks, cries, yells, and does all kinds of unusual and disturbing things that make the reader feel sorry for the kids and wonder about their eventual outcome.
The Darkest Child's strength lies in its commanding writing voice and vivid descriptions. Some of the painful scenes make you physically react, as if you're being abused instead of the children.
The worst thing about the book is there are far too many characters; you may not feel attached to each of them or remember which one is which, but the story is still compelling enough to keep you drawn to the characters' dilemma. In addition it would have been great if the mother's behavior was explained so the reader could know her motivations behind her horrendous actions.
This book is highly recommended because of its originality, excellent writing, and unpredictability, and because, as far as I know, there aren't too many books that can be compared to The Darkest Child. It is an engaging and dark read that won't be soon forgotten.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
At thirteen, Tangy Quinn is the darkest of ten children by different fathers, born to a mother who could pass for white. She is easily the smartest, but her dark skin leaves her last in line for her mother's affections. While she longs to continue her education, her mother has other plans: Tangy is to join her cleaning houses for whites and then at the "Farmhouse," where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Amidst the poverty and racism of the 1950s South, Tangy and her siblings live in fear of their mother Rozelle's notorious temper. But Tangy's determined to make it despite her mother's plans for her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it's truly a classic. I had this book for some time before finally reading it and I can kick myself for waiting so long to read it. It was outstanding!! Even though the book is called "The darkest child" all the children were treated horrible. My first thought was that Tangy Mae would be singled out because of her skin color, but she was in a family of 10 and they all suffered the wrath of that terrible mother. My heart bled for that family. No hell is hot enough for that "mother".

Delores Phillips did the thing in this book. It is especially good for a freshman effort. She has done an excellent job writing her first novel. This book really captivated me and had me wanting more. The details were so vivid, you felt as though you were a part of the story. Through out this book Mrs. Phillips touched base on child abuse, black on black racism, mental disorders, hearing impairment, murder, segregation movement, etc. I hope Delores Phillips continues writing books such as this one because it is far better than some books out there. Highly recommended.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Madness Rules January 24, 2004
The Darkest Child is a powerful debut from Delores Phillips; one so strong, I think she should earn a nomination for "rookie author of the year," if such a category in literature exists. It is a harrowing saga set in the late 1950's in rural Georgia and narrated by a teenaged Tangy Mae Quinn. Tangy is child number seven from Rozelle (Rosie) Quinn, a beautiful woman who has slept with most of the men in the town resulting in marriage to no one and ten fatherless children by as many men. Rosie exhibits selfish, erratic behavior leading the reader to believe she is a paranoid schizophrenic, although she is never diagnosed as such in the novel. Rosie rules the household with an iron fist (and an occasional iron poker) and is mean-spirited and merciless. Partially because of her mental condition, Rosie brainwashes the children with biblical references to "Honor Thy Mother" which burdens them with an obligation to forfeit all earnings to Rosie and never abandon her.
Although Tangy is the lead storyteller, there are numerous characters with much drama of their own and a subplot surrounding the Civil Rights struggle and school integration. Phillips also adds the classic theme of "colorism", in which the options of dark-skinned women in a color-conscious, male-dominated society are limited; however in this novel, Tangy tries to overcome it via education. There are tantalizing family secrets and vivid descriptions of child abuse which elicits reader empathy for the characters. I felt the characters' pain as they struggled with suppressed anger/frustrations from the domestic situation with a manipulative, mad mother as well as the social situation regarding second-class citizenry in the segregated South.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I have shared this with family and friends. A very moving story.
Published 5 days ago by Inez Henry
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting
This story was riveting! Once I started reading it,I couldn't put it down. I hope to read more from this author.
Published 12 days ago by Crystal
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read
Good read. Page Turner. Vivid description of setting and characters. I didn't like the ending and there were to many characters. Read more
Published 14 days ago by phyliis baldwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for a Book club
I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down and was done in less than a week. Looking forward to discussing it at our book club.
Published 19 days ago by emjay
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
Good read. An array of emotions. Not the ending I expected but a ending that was more realistic and seem real to the story
Published 24 days ago by Love to read
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing but......unfinished
It is,a good story. However there were so many tales and thoughts that were not completed. Wallace said he knew something that was never revealed. Who were the children's fathers? Read more
Published 27 days ago by Felecia Williams-Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars This book brings your emotions to surface as you read ...
This book brings your emotions to surface as you read some of the tragedies and situations that must be walked through by the main character. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Unknown
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent and easy reading
Published 1 month ago by Ronette C. McBean
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story
This is a great story about a young girl who triumphs all things in her life and has the will to be better in life
Published 2 months ago by roz bunn
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book. The events were tragic but the author ...
This is a great book. The events were tragic but the author had a unique talent to give us an insight into the lives of this poor black family back in the fifties. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Joanne Sellner
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