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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  301 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Librarian's note: See alternate cover edition of ISBN 1617750220 here.

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 wo
Paperback, 350 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by OpenLens (first published August 29th 2011)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  301 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: us-lit, africa
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
dianneOnRBG RIPmalaiseBreak
This is a brilliant book. The writing is exquisite. The plot is wonderful. I learned a whole lotta good stuff. Stuff about history, stuff about the BS of the Christian mythology (did you know that a pagan Roman called a council together 400 years after Jesus’ death where they - mortals all it seems - decided whether or not it was best (politically, mind you) if Jesus was deemed “divine” or not?) How about the fact that the Queen of Sheba was also Queen of a large area of Africa (conveniently lef ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind blowing

Well written and well thought out. History and fantasy leave you wantingore and with food for thought about world history as it has been presented to us. Simply superb
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Kathy Walker
Jan 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked the subject, I liked the two main characters, but I didn't care for Mr. Robinsons writing style.
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Fictional book which includes historical and scientific facts that is told through a grandmother and grandson relationship. The end of the book contains references of books and scholars for further recommended reading if you feel like doing so. The story line itself was very captivating and inspiring.

Upon pondering midway through the book how much I was enjoying this read, I had already decided that it is now one of my favorite books. I will def
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
this was a 3.5 read for me.
Aaron Horton
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a book about African history and family told by the character Gray. Makeda is an interesting and wise grandmother.
Damaris Soler
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 30, 2013 rated it liked it
...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
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Mike Heyd
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, owned
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
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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
Jun 24, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
As soon as I had finished this book I wanted to praise it to the skies. I'm glad I held off because to have done so would not have been a fair and accurate review. There is a place in the book that unfortunately rather mars the story and the writer for me. Of course it is well understood that the thinking for the character is set in a certain time period, however, for me I don't feel the same enthusiasm for Virgil nor Randall Robinson. The place in question is Virgil mentioning Geraldine Trice. ...more
Ashley Scott
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 21, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I need to read this again - with a highlighter and pencil. Such an interesting glimpse into the mind of an African American and his exploration of SELF in civil rights era of 1960s, and beautiful explanation and glimpses of the richness of African heritage and culture that truly was lost by most African Americans. Writing style was more disjointed, and some of the soliloquies were more academic and "English Major" in prose and style, but the thoughts, insights, and science were thought-provoking ...more
Shereese Maynard
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Alisha W
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I appreciate the introspective nature of this book. It provided a good amount of depth and made for a great coming-of-age story. Robinson crafted an interesting story using history and a bit mysticism to articulate the double consciousness many African American feel at some point in their lives. This book also charged me with going back and brushing up on some of my African history. Overall, a well done, elegantly written book.
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Reading Between C...: Makeda - Randall Robinson 8 6 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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