Books,  Reviews

The House of Eve

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Synopsis

From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, a daring and redemptive novel set in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC, that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.

1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.

Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his par­ents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.

With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.

Synopsis source: Goodreads

Review

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, BIPOC, Race
HB&W Rating: 4
View on Goodreads
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I am not sure I can do this justice. I’ll admit that I had a hard time getting into this one at first, but it did get easier after a bit. It’s obvious that the author did her research and I appreciated all the historical facts she worked into the story that were left out or glossed over in my school history books. Her rich historical setting made me believe I was living it right along with the characters.

The dual perspective and parallels between Ruby’s and Eleanor’s experiences was very cleverly done. In her Author’s Note, she explains how the story was inspired by her own family history and by others’ stories as she found them in her research, bringing depth and nuance to the characters and their stories.

I related to the theme of motherhood in the book, empathizing not just with the main characters but all the supporting characters as well. While their actions might seem reprehensible through a 21st century lens, I empathize with them. They were held back by conventions women aren’t this day and age and were forced to make hard decisions in the best interests of their children.

While there is a strong focus on motherhood, the primary purpose of the story is to highlight the gross disparity between Whites and Blacks as well as between different skin tones within the Black community when it comes to advancement in society. It’s a well-accepted fact that education is a key facilitator of socioeconomic advancement, and this book does a fantastic job of outlining the bias, perceptions, and prejudices facing POC that prevent them from obtaining that education and from completing it, continuing the cycle.

Poignant and heartbreaking, this is a story that reminds us how high the deck is stacked against POC (then and now) when it comes to means and opportunity. The book was a well-drawn portrait of motherhood and what it means to want the best for one’s child and how far one might go to ensure the best future and opportunities for them.

Until next time,

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