Betsey Brown

Betsey Brown

by Ntozake Shange

This is a unique and vividly told novel about a girl named Betsey Brown, an African American seventh-grader growing up in St. Louis, Missouri.

This world, though a work of fiction, is based closely and carefully on actual history, specifically on the nationwide school desegregation events of the Civil Rights movement in Americas recent past.

As such, Betsey Brown is a historical novel that will speak to and broaden the perspectives of readers both familiar with and unaware of Americas domestic affairs of 1950s and 1960s.Shange has set her story in the autumn of 1959, the year St. Louis started to desegregate its schools.

The novel is firmly located in the wake of this landmark ruling; the plot of Shanges novel and the history of Americas quest for integration during the Civil Rights era are fundamentally entwined.

Thus textual references abound to the watershed events at Little Rocks Central High School in the September of 1957, for example, and to "fire-bombings and burningcrosses" in the South as well as "'battalions of police and crowds of crackers'" at a demonstration in St. Louis.Betsey is the oldest child in a large, remarkable, and slightly eccentric African American family.

Her father is a doctor who wakes his children each morning with point-blank questions about African history and Black culture while beating on a conga drum; her mother is a beautiful, refined, confident, and strong-willed social worker who is overwhelmed by the vast size of her young family and who cares very little for all that nasty colored music.Indeed, Betseys whole existence can be seen as a perceptive, adventuresome, and still-developing hybrid of her parents most distinctive qualities.

Their her parents' difficult marriage, like the difficult era of desegregation that has only begun in St. Louis and the rest of America, is the realistic, conflicted, yet ultimately hopeful backdrop before which Betseys lip-synching, poem-reciting, soul-searching, truth-seeking, tree-climbing, and fact-finding take place.

Betseys running away sends her parents into a vicious fight, while her subsequent return seems to bring them closer together (if only temporarily).As a novel, Betsey Brown is panoramic yet personal.

It tells us what being a Black student in the early days of American desegregation was like by showing us what being Betsey Brown is like.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.82
  • Pages: 224
  • Publish Date: August 15th 1995 by Picador
  • Isbn10: 0312134347
  • Isbn13: 9780312134341

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Riveting storyline, engaging characters, enthralling look at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, and beautifully rendered writing made Betsey Brown a highly satisfying captivating read for me. Highly recommend this book be part of school and public libraries and is certainly a must read for lovers of coming-of-age stories and African American life.

This book is about the main character, Betsy Brown, a young girl growing up and discovering her way through her teenage years. The author gives a glimpse into life for African-American family and youth during this period of time. From the perspective of Betsey, we can see racial tension, the way African Americans were treated during this time, and the culture in a traditional middle class family like her own. Main Characters: Betsy Brown is a young girl (the main character) who struggles with young adult issues that most 14 year olds don't need to deal with today. Her and her mother struggle with Jane's husband who takes pride in his african roots and is much darker than they are, as he is much more socially active in the community and wants to involve their children. He quizzes his children every morning about African culture and social issues that press them during the time. Although she is very different from the family and has issues with Vida, Betsy's grandmother who is harsh on anyone, she is the most successful in keeping the house and children in order.

Every time she mentioned Tina and lyrics from her songs, it brought Teen Town memories back to me. It's a little late now but I'm glad I read this book because it gave me information I never really thought about before.

To say that this is a book about integration would be an under-sell: Betsey Brown presents a personal look at the life of a young Black girl in St Louis, covering everything from her loves and friendships to her isolation and anxieties.

Before I review this book - I feel the need to explain how I have to select books to read. In a perfect world, or at least in a town with a pretty decent library, I would simply look up the book that my friends had suggested on the electronic card catalog and pull it off the shelf...happy reading. The e-card catalog NEVER works (not even for the librarian) and the selection of books is at best "slim pickins". Well the powers that be, whoever they are, changed all that and now I am forced to wander the stacks and simply grab books off the shelves hoping to find a good one.

This novel is set in the South in the aftermath of the Little Rock 9, but Shange does not overwhelm the plot with that storyline.