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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Makeda Gee Florida Harris March is a proud matriarch, the anchor and emotional bellwether who holds together a hard-working African American family living in 1950s Richmond, Virginia. Lost in shadow is Makeda's grandson Gray, who begins escaping into the magical world of Makeda's tiny parlor.

Makeda, a woman blind since birth but who has always dreamed in color, begins to c
Paperback, 350 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by OpenLens (first published August 29th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 682)
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By the title alone, if you are a reader who enjoys "factual" fiction you know you are in for a treat. The book is essentially a coming-of-age story, but told with a backdrop of African history. When and where have the Dogon been mentioned in a work of fiction? The thoughts that run through Gray's mind are certainly designed to be instructive to the reader. It is rare that a novel can be educational in regards to African history, and how it relates to the contemporary African-American but Makeda ...more
Friederike Knabe
What could West African history and cosmology, the Queen of Sheba and early Christianity possibly have to do with a simple, blind, old woman, who is only moderately educated and has lived all her life in Richmond, Virginia? Quite a lot, you will find when you read Randall Robinson's thought-provoking and persuasive novel. With Makeda Robinson ventures into a world of fiction that transcends any genre definition of a traditional novel. It integrates a fictional memoir, a coming-of-age and a very ...more
Rene Spector Johnson
This story is right up my alley, the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of it flowed with my being like old familiar friends. I did have some issues with the writing, there were times when it felt like it was coming from different writers; or maybe their were long periods of time between writing pieces of the book; it gave it a choppiness and some parts were contradictory to the overall vibe of the book. Also, there were times when I felt the wording was trying to hard...the use of big words for ...more
Maybe I missed it (which is entirely possible given how scatterbrained I've become) but I'm surprised this book didn't get more press. I found myself comparing Robinson's book to those of another black law scholar/novelist, Stephen L. Carter. The big difference between the two is pacing: Robinson's, for all its elegant prose, moves at a not-too-fast, not-too-slow clip, whereas Carter's tend to plod along while also lacking the same grace of language. The story in and of itself isn't that complic ...more
Sep 04, 2012 Kathy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Friends
Recommended to Kathy by: Readers from 30 in 90 Written Magazine
I just completed this wonderful story by Randall Robinson. It is the story of a young man Graylon, "Gray" March and his grandmother Mattie Gee Florida Harris March "Makeda" born blind in Richmond Va at the turn of the century. Gray and his grandmother have a relationship born of love and respect that grandmothers represent. Makeda had dreams in color that were from the past lives that she had lived in Ethiopia and amongst the Moors in Spain.

I loved the book as Ethiopia is a country that I have
This book was a pretty good mix of fiction and fact. The author seemed to "time hop" a bit too much, and I found myself trying to figure out which century or year he was in. I also felt that he could have been a bit more detailed in some parts of the book. Other than that, it's a nice book.
A good premise for a novel, but way too wordy and detailed. The author comes across as an intellectual English major on steroids!! Got better at the end, but not enough to justify a higher rating.
Kathy Walker
I liked the subject, I liked the two main characters, but I didn't care for Mr. Robinsons writing style.
Mike Heyd
Despite the descriptions of books on their covers or in Goodreads one never quite knows what to expect. I was prepared for the magic of Makeda's dream world. I was far less prepared to be drawn so completely into the heart and mind of an African American writer. Randall Robinson was completely unknown to me before I entered the First Reads drawing and won this book, but I am very glad that we were introduced. Given the oft-quoted and inescapable fact of "so many books, so little time," it's no s ...more
Susan Henn
3/2012 The book, Makeda, has strong writing, interesting historical information, and thought provoking ideas. However, the story was not what was described in the online description or on the book’s cover. Perhaps the discrepancy was due to my lack of understanding of African-American history and culture. The books is described as, “Makeda Gee Florida Harris March is a proud matriarch, the anchor and emotional bellwether who holds together a hard-working African American family living in 1950s R ...more
Part 1
We meet the main characters, Graylon and his grandmother, his parents and "perfect" brother, Gordon. Graylon has a special relationship with his grandmother, Makeda/Mattie. While in elementary/Middle school, Gray visits her almost everyday. By the time he reaches HS, his family has moved further away from Mattie so he sees her only on Thursdays. They talk and she tells stories. She is blind from birth but dreams in color of her past life or lives. She tells Gray, who has decided he wants t
Makeda, a blind laundress in Richmond, Virginia reveals her dreams to Gray, her grandson. Makeda dreams of her past lives in Africa. Her most vivid dreams are about her life in Mali. She belonged to the Dogon ethnic group. The Dogon were highly skilled in astronomy. Makeda asks Gray to document her dreams. Makeda only trusts Gray with her dreams because others would think she's insane. Years pass and Gray realizes scientists who discovered a star did so ten years after his blind grandmother desc ...more
Randall Robinson, best known for his efforts in foreign policy advocacy and his bestselling nonfiction works An Unbroken Agony and Quitting America, turns his hand to fiction with the story of a young African-American man whose sense of self is shaped and buoyed by his visions of the past.

Gray March feels little connection to his emotionally distant parents, but from early childhood he is strongly bonded to his blind grandmother Makeda. Only to Gray will she divulge her dreams of Africa, dreams

This author takes us on a spiritual journey through many reincarnations of an old soul, who in this reincarnation is a blind African American retired laundress and empowers her grandson to know, without a doubt, that no matter how downtrodden, disadvantaged, poor, seemingly uneducated, or no matter how lowly your current job, that you are a part of culture, and man's glorious achievement. That no matter how " third world" a country appears to be, it is the repository of knowledge western science
...son, you won't need to talk to my headstone in order to talk to me. I won't be there. I'll be in the air and the Earth. I'll be in the stars that light the African heavens. I'll be watchin' over you and your family. My spirit will always be close enough to touch and protect you all. So, do not grieve for me. My body will die, but my soul will live on. For my soul cannot die. Always remember that my soul is the spark of God in me."

Isn't that beautiful?! Sometimes one quote can make an entire
A rambling family narrative about a grandmother who remembers past lives and her grandson who is struggling to find his place in civil rights era America. I listened to this book while running and I didn't mind the meandering so much--the great voices helped--but I probably would have been annoyed reading it. The narrator intentionally avoids subjects by wandering off on rabbit holes and it can get a little frustrating. But the beauty and history he discovers about his African heritage is incred ...more
This book shone a bright light on my ignorance of African history and of cultural genocide. It was an eye-opening coming-of-age story that spanned the eons of time. While I found some passages awkwardly written and sometimes difficult to understand without re-reading, the story unfolded at a pace that held my interest. Makeda is a truly memorable character.
Ashley Scott
Makeda is an amazing fact-infused fiction work that I found deeply inspiring. It described a people and existence that African Americans desperatly need to remember and reconnect with. However, the coming of age story line and common experience of navigating higher education resonated with me as well. I'll definitely be gifting a copy to all my friends and family. This novel can easily be described as a "must read". I'll be reading through it again myself soon enough. Randall Robinson's promotio ...more
Emma B
Very unusual book. A family's life and young man's relationship with his blind grandmother, who dreams in color. Her dreams take her back to other lives she has lived on the African continent. A deep read. This book made me thankful for having close family relationships, and sad for the young man who had an estranged relationship from his parents. The author keeps the reader reading by giving little tidbits of information about what has happened in the protagonist's life that keeps the reader re ...more
I truly appreciated the subject matter of the book. however, this felt more like an essay in a novel's clothing.
There isn't much fantasy fiction written from an African-American perspective, which is kind of surprising when you think about the rich oral tradition of passing down folk tales through the generations. Makeda is hard to categorize - part coming of age novel, part anthropological expedition, part esoteric history and science lesson, part romance (the romance, as in most coming of age novels, is the most two-dimensional and least compelling story). All told, quite enjoyable.
I listened to the audio version of this book, and I really believe I enjoyed it more than I normally would have by reading it. The actor that read was fantastic.
The story was very interesting and I liked the blurring of fiction with historical artifacts. There were a couple of events that I didn't quite understand, but they were related to other events that were only vaguely covered... perhaps if those critical events were covered in more detail, I would not have had that issue.
Entertaining and informative.
Shereese Maynard
I just started this book. Randall Robinson can tell a story like no other. You can almost here his voice through the words of this amazing story. I'm taking this on my Thanksgiving getaway and can't wait to tell you about it once I return. If you haven't heard Randall read or speak, you simply must; if you haven't read his words, you're missing out! I already highly recommend this book. Love it and recommended it for a book club.
Makeda will not be the book for everyone. I savered every word of his lovely writing. Makeda is about a man's special bond with his grandmother.

Grayson has had a bond with his blind grandmother since he was little. He is the one person she feels comfortable sharing her past-life dreams with, one of which motivates him to visit Africa.

This book explores relationships, reincarnation, African history, and lovely writing.
Esther Marie
An enjoyable read with a different historical perspective than what I typically pick up. It is a bit of an overstatement to compare this book heavily to Woolf, Morrison and Marquez, (as the cover does), but it is an enjoyable jaunt into magical realism with an African focus. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Morrison or who are just curious to learn slightly more, (albeit in the form of a novel), about African history.
What I appreciated most about this book are the brief African Diaspora history lessons taught by Makeda, Graylon March's grandmother. We learn about Mali and the Dogon people, Ethiopia and Moors.

It has made me curious to do my own research on the accomplishments of Africans that are not taught in world history courses.

The love story was interesting, but the estrangement from his parents didn't really add much.
Great coming of age story along with great bits of African history, metaphysics, and identity formation. Dr Quarles laments toward the end of the book that he did not require more reading of African (Mali) history to his students. I would like to see this book read in high schools and colleges. I loved being able to see images of the andrika symbols and the lalibela crosses which are so beautiful.
D Fields
Professor Randall being an academic this read is short but not light. It's worth it. Makeda, the story of a young man's life long fascination with his grandmother's stories of past lives will leave the reader searching for more information about the vivid stories she tells of first Africa. It is a door to history. I keep it next to my Zora Neale Hurston (which I keep w/ my Bible)
A sprawling book and an eye-opening read.
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Reading Between C...: Makeda - Randall Robinson 8 5 Oct 02, 2013 08:50AM  
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“...son, you won't need to talk to my headstone in order to talk to me. I won't be there. I'll be in the air and the Earth. I'll be in the stars that light the African heavens. I'll be watchin' over you and your family. My spirit will always be close enough to touch and protect you all. So, do not grieve for me. My body will die, but my soul will live on. For my soul cannot die. Always remember that my soul is the spark of God in me.” 2 likes
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