Historical Fiction

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was an amazing read!

Initially when I heard about this book I knew it was something I wanted to read. Then when I saw how thick it was I was a little leery because well 800 pages, but I said let me just give it a try. OH MY GOD am I glad I didn’t let the page count deter me because I couldn’t put this book down.

This is a women/literary/historical fiction that spans over 400 years, our protagonist Ailey takes use on a journey as she navigates life’s challenges of being a young black woman dealing with disappointment, heartbreak, racism, colorism, and self discovery. Within that self discovery is her discovering her families lineage as well. 

What I loved the most about this book is the historical content. I learned so much about Native Americans that I never knew. I thought over and over about how Black history isn’t taught and this book made me realize that we are not alone in that. I can remember only learning about the inception of Thanksgiving and the Trail of Tears but there is so much more to Native American’s history that this book opened my eyes to and now I have a desire to learn more.

The African American history that was discussed here was amazing as well. It took me two weeks to read this book because I was annotating and researching almost every historical reference. Honoree even writes about the history of Georgia which I thought was interesting. It’s so amazing how she was able to weave so many historical facts about several different groups of people into this book.

I love that Ailey was a thick brown skinned girl! As a dark skinned girl who wasn’t always desired and had to grow up dealing with colorism and microaggressions in and outside of my community, I felt seen through Ailey’s character as Ailey’s character was loved and appreciated for her darker skin and curvy body. There was even a part in the book where Ailey lost weight and she was told she wasn’t meant to be that skinny, her body shape was meant to be curvy and that she was beautiful with her weight so she needed to gain it back.

One thing that bothered me about this read was the sexual trauma that was throughout the book. While I understand these things do happen, and I know generational trauma is real it was disturbing to read about it at times because there was so much of it. However I did like how Honoree explored the different impacts it has on different people. I think so many times those of us who never experienced it think all those who have experienced sexual trauma react the same way and that is clearly not the case. So I appreciate Honoree for clearly laying out the impact sexual trauma can have on different people.

All in all I loved this book, this is one of the best books I have ever read. I was fully immersed in the book from the very first paragraph and honestly I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to know how Ailey’s love life ended, if she got married and had kids. While yes I know it had to end I just didn’t want it to. I absolutely loved Honoree’s writing style, the words just flowed. I have never read any of her poetry but it makes sense that she is a poet and I am definitely going to be checking out some of her poetry now. Yes this is a lengthy book but each page is necessary. I kept expecting that I would eventually lose interest in this book because of the length but not once did I have the urge to put it down. If you can handle the content I highly suggest this amazing piece of work! If you are easily triggered I would caution you that there are sensitive topics mentioned throughout this entire book. 

CW-molestation, pedophilia, sodemy, rape, and incest.

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