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The Root Worker Hardcover – May 21, 2001
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This finely crafted novel takes you through Ellen's life a she sees it; her hope for things to change for the better. Her conflicting religious beliefs. Her pain. Her sorrow. Her triumph.
The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the fact that after I read it it still lingered in my mind. I liked the fact that while I was reading my emotions were running on overtime. When something bad happened, my heart sank. When something good happened, I almost cried tears of joy.
Warning: This is not a "candy read". Expect to be affected. Expect to feel the emotions and terror Ellen feels. Expect to feel your heart wrench. Expect to feel set free.
From now on, I will expect nothing less.
Hats off to this talented new writer on a dazzling debut.
Rainelle Burton has written a beautifully evocative story about true empowerment, using the narrative voice of a young african-american girl in a sharply bifurcated world. The young protagonist, Ellen, shuttles between her home, where she lives with a brother who sexually abuses her, a mother who she may only address as "The Woman," and a weak-willed, philandering father who she knows as "The Husband," and St. Agnes, the parish school she attends, with its wimpled nuns and robed priests. However, in Ellen's world, there are no saviors in the church or school, and there are no miracles in the potions dispensed by the root worker who The Woman pays for curatives.
Ellen calmly observes the dichotomies between what she believes her life might be and what it actually is throughout the story. She tries to make sense of her surroundings, searching for "glue" to hold things together, and to provide her with the safe haven she desires. The reader sees through Ellen's bruised and swollen eyes as stark episode after episode of poverty and ignorance reveal themselves. As readers, we share Ellen's pain and humiliation in the name of hope.
Ellen sees her own battered face and body in a shop window and identifies the girl she sees as "Clarissa," to whom she addresses many of her observations. Clarissa is Medusa-haired, puffy-eyed, scratched, and soiled, a battered confidante for a lonely, frightened little girl.Read more ›
Ellen's story is a familar story, of the girl left behind. Hers is a story of physical, mental, and sexual abuse, that trancends the ordinary dysfunctional family. This unique tale is told in the voice of a girl whose voice has been muted to nearly everyone except her imaginary friend Clarissa. Even through the midst of angst and lonliness, Ellen story is vivid, uplifting, and somewhat humerous at times.
Burton's done a wonderful thing in this story. She let us peep into the lives of an extraordinary, reluctant, heroine. Her imagery and symbolism is reminiscent of Alice Walker.
If you want a book to read that's thoughtful, extremely well written, and even mystical, then this book will not dissapoint.
Ellen's search for solace forces her into an alternate reality---I suppose this can be viewed as a mode of self-defense. Outsiders view her as peculiar and ostracize her even more. Most of the adults in the world tend to turn a blind eye to the outward physical abuse of this impoverished black child. Because she has no friends, she invents Clarissa-whom she confides her deepest thoughts. Luckily, she is befriended and rescued by a neighbor and things look up.
The novel is told through the eyes of Ellen and I found it a little hard to follow at times, especially when defining relationships of some of the key characters and their backgrounds. There was lack of closure with some characters and I was left wanting to know more about their fate. Overall, it was an enjoyable read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When asked, "Who has power and entitlement in that world (the world of eleven year-old Ellen)?" Rainelle Burton says, "The answer is no one. Read morePublished on September 3, 2012 by MaryAnn Myers
This book surpassed my expectations of a debut book. I found it to be reminiscent of Toni Morrison. The characters are a little hard to follow in the beginning but once you start... Read morePublished on May 6, 2008 by StylishCurvyGirl
This book ripped me open, and left my insides vulnerable and exposed to the world. That's as nicely as I can convey how I felt after reading the last word of this text. Read morePublished on March 30, 2007 by MsLJ920
I had a chance to read this book shortly after it was released. I was around 17 years old, and I understood it perfectly. Read morePublished on July 28, 2004 by Joshua Mullin
remarkable first novel, the root worker, holds your interest from beginning to end. this book is filled with characters that you love and hate at the same time.Published on September 19, 2002
I loved this book. It was a switch from the "sister girl" books that I normally read. It took me back to my high school english class where a book was dissected to find... Read morePublished on May 15, 2002 by Shawnie