Stand The Storm
Reviewed by: Vanessa Dora Murray
Stand the Storm—another exceptional novel from the pen of Breena Clarke, the bestselling author of River, Cross My Heart, an October 1999 Oprah Book Club Selection—has arrived. A riveting tale about enslavement, struggle, sacrifice, and the Coats, a family that manages to buy their freedom, true freedom.
Sewing Annie Coats, the lead character, comes to the realization that slaves with special skills are the last to be sold. So, as the most skilled sewer in her neck of the woods, she does not hesitate to teach her own children, Gabriel and Ellen, every thing she knows about sewing, knitting, weaving, and a horde of other skills. The story unfolds when young Gabriel is sent to work for Abraham Pearl, a kind Georgetown tailor, who teaches Gabriel the ropes of tailoring. In time, the Coats, who become so-called ex-slaves, end up operating their own tailor shop and laundry in Georgetown, a place believed to be heaven on earth for former slaves, but as it turns out, their heavenly paradise is actually a frontier town, with no laws defending African Americans. Stand the Storm will have you laughing, clapping, and crying. It is a remarkable piece of work, Clarke’s best by far.
A native of Washington, D.C., and the recipient of the 1999 award for fiction by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and the Alex Award, given by the Young Adult Library Services Association, Clarke has managed to cope with the death of her only child which is probably the reason she is able to effectively write about pain and heartache.
Kudos to Clarke!
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