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The Darkest Child

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  12,075 ratings  ·  1,540 reviews
Bakersfield, Georgia, 1958: Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn is the sixth of ten fatherless siblings. She is the darkest-skinned among them and therefore the ugliest in her mother, Rozelle's, estimation, but she's also the brightest. Rozelle--beautiful, charismatic, and light-skinned--exercises a violent hold over her children. Fearing abandonment, she pulls them from sch ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Soho Press (first published 2004)
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Naeemah Huggins Delores Phillips died in 2014 but she was working on a sequel that she unfortunately did not get to finish. I got to hear an excerpt on Audible. When …moreDelores Phillips died in 2014 but she was working on a sequel that she unfortunately did not get to finish. I got to hear an excerpt on Audible. When Tangy Mae and Laura left home they went to Crow(Tangy's dad)'s mom's house in Tennessee. The excerpt was paced a lot slower than the novel. Nothing exciting really happened. They met grandma and Tangy mae looks like her great aunt who died. They also met the neighbor and their kids.(less)
Ruth Delores Phillips began a sequel to this story entitled Stumbling Blocks. Unfortunately, she passed in 2014 and was unable to finish the novel. My pape…moreDelores Phillips began a sequel to this story entitled Stumbling Blocks. Unfortunately, she passed in 2014 and was unable to finish the novel. My paperback edition of the book had four chapters from her unfinished novel. (less)

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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  12,075 ratings  ·  1,540 reviews

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May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Heart wrenching but well written and thought out. It's hard when you know the fiction was and probably is someone's truth. Just a reminder to be grateful. ...more
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

Whew! Wow what a book. What a beautifully written yet sad book. Why has this Author not written another book? Perhaps this was the only story she needed to tell. The writing was so wonderful and vivid that I could see/imagine what was happening. That is not always a good thing with this book as there is a tremendous amount of abuse in this book. I found that I could not read this book fast. I had to take breaks from it. This is not an easy read.

The book begins when Rozelle tells her em
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a painful story told from the perspective of a girl, Tangy Mae, who suffers terribly at the hands of her mother, a woman with many children but no long term partner to support her. Tangy recognises that 'there was something terribly wrong with our mother' but is unable to escape from her increasingly abusive behaviour, partly because she feels responsible for her younger siblings. The family's tale plays out against the background of a small town in the 1950s, mired in racism. Phillips s ...more
This was definitely a difficult read. So difficult that I'm not even sure whether I can say I like it or not. The content and subject matter were just so brutal and violent that I couldn't wait to be over with it. On the other hand, the writing was good so I kept reading. I cannot imagine why any mother would treat her kids the way Rozelle did --- absolutely horrific. Her children (especially Tangy Mae) are definitely survivors. ...more
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Heart breaking, Disturbing, Sad, Curious story that you just can not stop reading.

...If that is the introduction that I give it then why did I keep reading? Because this is a book you can't put down. Like the cruel, startling evening newscast that you just keep watching. Like video of an accident you know is about to happen but you can't turn away. Because I am a hopeful person. I hoped that through all that was happening something would stop the injustice, something would stop the abuse and
3.5 stars overall and absolutely not rounded up. The first half was a full 4 stars. Yet the last quarter of the book rather rambled and jumped with poor continuity between crisis to further crisis. It was so progression confused that some depth was, IMHO, completely loss. Especially considering the cruelty, homicide successive repeats.

More about this work after some thought. Violence factor in this novel overwhelms. The enjoyment factor of reading it for me was 1 star.

I've thought about this. I
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is an EXCELLENT book. I say that because I felt a range of emotions as I turned the pages...rage, sadness, happiness, pity...I laughed, I cried.

In reading this book I saw through its characters different ways people learn and/or choose to survive the hardships of life. A person can go through tragedies and people can try to destroy their spirit but there always is a choice. They may not be able to choose the hand they have been dealt or control the situation but they always have the option
Clif Hostetler
Jun 28, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This novel tells the story of an African American family living on the fringes of a Georgia town during the late 1950s and into the early 1960s. As can be expected with this time and place the rumblings of racial discontent portending the coming civil rights changes are very much a part of the surrounding environment of this story. Thus I was prepared for read about racial violence and overt intimidation on the part of the white community against the black community. Indeed integration of the sc ...more
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this book with my book club Mocha Girls Read and it was our selection for Black History Month. I have to say this was a hard read for me. I had a hard time getting caught up in all the craziness of the characters especially Rozelle aka Mama.

Rozelle's character is an over dominating, bipolar woman who has ten kids by ten different men from working in the "farmhouse". I was slightly disturbed by the "we know but it ain't our business" attitude the various people took regarding her abusive
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Oh, how I hated this book. It was long and well-written, but there a few things fundamentally wrong with it:

a. It was relentless in its cruelty to its characters. No one had a moment's sunshine, save the deaf-mute sister who's "rescued" from the family by the much-older-than-she mailman, who immediately marries her and knocks her up.

b. It was overwritten. The narrator's supposed to be an adolescent girl and while Phillips goes out of her way to emphasize how educated the girl is, her vocabulary
Katisha Kersey
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it, bookclub
Excellent read. The mystery behind the mom's mental illness was intriguing. ...more
Kathryn in FL
Love, Loyalty, Honor and Self-respect

I listened to this story over a period of more than three weeks while driving to various appointments. There were times I couldn't leave the car, though I had arrived at my destination because the compelling story would be at yet another junction where it was impossible to stop listening.

This story is profound because it is so real and it makes me ponder whether this was based at least in some part to someone's tale. Though the events happened more than a de
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is quite possibly one of the most disturbing books I've read. And that's why I gave it 4 stars. Any book that grab and twist my emotions is a winner. I wanted to stop reading it ~ the abuse scenes were cringe worthy. Not just the physical aspects, but the mental aspects... a part of me just kept asking myself if there are really kids who are living under these conditions and I know there are which made this story all the more compelling.

Tangy and her siblings are sympathetically writte
The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips is soul wrenching horrendous. One would never believe that a Mother could so deeply harm a child, let alone "10" of them, emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. Rozelle is a woman who is Pure Evil! She cares for no one, not even herself. Unfortunately, the reader never finds out why Rozelle is the way she is. She's hateful, spiteful, souless, and completely mental. She has 10 children by 10 different men. Most are as white as she is with one bein ...more
A woman has ten children and beats them senseless almost every week. She takes her teenage daughters to "The Farmhouse" to turn them into prostitutes--just like herself. Her children live in a town filled with racial tensions, yet they must face worse at home.

Tangy Mae, the narrator, is the daughter who loves school and wants to figure out a way out of the town. Yet what she must go through in order to do that, at the hands of her own mother, is horrific.

Here's a dialogue between mother and dau
I went through a range of emotions while reading this book, rage, anger and sadness. This was a really hard read for me, mainly because of the issues covered in the book, they included, rape, colourism, child molestation, sex slavery, jim crow, racism, poverty, single parent reality, physical/emotional/verbal/mental abuse, mental health and general violence. Yes! This book covered a whole lot, it is a very heavy, hard, soul crushing read.

Told from the POV of Tangy Mae, The Darkest Child is a st
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading the "The Darkest Child" by Delores Phillips for the 2nd time was so much more revealing than the 1st time go-round. It was so much more detailed and graphic than the 1st. It wasn't that they weren't there, I was just more aware of the content than I was before. Ms. Phillips does a wonderful job of characterizing a mother whose not only disfunctional within herself, but possessive of her children and afraid that they will leave her. "The Darkest Child" - Tangy Mae - is so courageous and s ...more
Kierra J,
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Can I tell you that I didn't want this book to end?! I absolutely love these sort of books! First of all, I was compelled to read it because I kept noticing it in searches for books. The title and the cover can also be credited for drawing me in. For some reason it was relatable even though my family is nowhere near as dysfunctional as this one. The book deals with topics like an unfit mother who struggles to survive by any means, lack of self-esteem, poverty, racism, etc. This book is not for t ...more
Barri Brown
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Devastating, amazing depiction of pathology both individual and social. Chronicle of family and Southern small-town society in the '50s. Incredible piece of fiction by this author who unfortunately passed away last year, this being the only book she wrote. ...more
Incredibly painful read. A single mother of ten (or is it eleven) children who is obsessed with keeping them with her at all cost, even as she abuses them so brutally and sadistically it almost beggars belief. And yet, these things do happen in real life. The protagonist is one of her daughters, the smartest of the bunch who is determined to get her high school diploma against all odds, with her mother intent on getting her out of school so she can earn wages to help feed the family, and the rec ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A story told from a child’s perspective of life growing up with an abusive and demanding mother in the 1950s. Honoring their mother and living up to and by the Quinn family name was just the top of the iceberg for these kids. Tangy-Mae tells this exceptionally horrific story of living with a spiteful mother who threw God forbidden tasks, hateful words, and fists at her and her siblings on a day-to-day basis. She was very elaborate, conniving, and manipulative. She was capable of getting her chil ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You know how you read a book that makes you angry and ache for the characters halfway through? And then you keep reading and hope that there is a happy ending? Well in this book, there is no happy ending. There is just misery and heartache that crawls all over the pages. Tangy Mae is the main character but the whole family suffers. 10 siblings who have a mother that is so bent on seeing her children suffer so she can gain. She went as far as killing two of her own children, beating them all cont ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What a rollercoaster ride!

I started reading this book and once I got into it, I was not able to put it down. I finished most of it in one evening. With that begin said, it was so hard to imagine what she went through growing up during that time.
This book made me laugh, cry, and totally broke my heart. The main character Tangy Mae has determined to break through even though she has to deal with so much strife.
Her mother is a basketcase, even up to the end of the book she controlled her chi
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
No matter how many times I read this story, it always moves me. It will never get old. All of the characters were rich and complex. The author wove a tale steeped in fear, pain and the awful atrocities that took place during the time period in which the story takes place (rural Georgia during the 50's). I remember some of the stories my grandmother used to tell me and I can so easily relate to the times. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone that would love to read an awesome thought provoking ...more
Maya B
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Very interesting story about Tangy Mae and her 9 siblings and the horrendous conditions they had to endure by the hands of their very abusive mother. The story was well written enough to keep my attention however, there was never a wow factor for me to get excited about this book. I also did not like how the story ended. No real closure with the characters and I was left with too many questions in the end.
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it

Unbeatable plot: a truly psychotic mother raising twelve children in poverty in rural 1950s Georgia. It’s very well-written—I didn’t mind the dialect at all, which speaks volumes about the author’s talents. She uses dialect perfectly: at no point is the writing at all difficult to read, nor does it distract. I couldn’t put this down.

“‘Satan’s in here,’ Mama repeated with mounting fear in her voice. Edna started to cry, and Mama spun around to face her. ‘Shut up. You want him to hear you
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The synopsis leads you to believe it’s about desegregation of schools in the south. But it’s not about that at all. That plot line is only teased but never comes to fruition. It’s a story of so many extremes taken to the nth degree but told with painful truth and never gratuitous. Racism, poverty, colourism, extreme physical and emotional abuse, and mental health issues are all themes of this incredible story of struggle. But there’s also themes of strong family bonds, love, loyalty,
Rick Slane reads more reviews less
With an upbringing as poverty stricken as the one depicted in The Glass Castle and a mother maybe as evil as Kate from East of Eden, The Darkest Child begins in 1958 in a small segregated Georgia town. It's the story of 13 year old Tangy Mae's struggle to get an education while her mother wants her to work as a maid by day and as a prostitute at night. Many types of prejudice are on display. ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brutal story about a black family in 1950s Parkersfield, GA, whose physical poverty defines their lives, and emotional poverty breaks their souls. Told from the POV of Tangy Mae Quinn, a 13 year old who is the 6th of ten children born to Rozelle Quinn. Tangy Mae is the darkest of the children, and the brightest. Rozelle seemingly hates her for both reasons. But Rozelle seems to hate everyone, and takes this hatred out on everyone, especially her children. Frankly, Rozelle is just bat-s ...more
Monterica Neil
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing

The Darkest Child, set in the small town of Pakersfield, Georgia is the story of Tangy Mae Quinn as she struggles to love and satisfy her abusive, mentally disturbed, sexually promiscuous, yet breathtakingly beautiful mother Rozelle “Rosie” Quinn. “Mushy, Harvey, Sam, and Martha Jean were her white children. Tarabelle, Wallace, and Laura were Indians – Cherokee, no less. Edna and I were Negroes,” Tangy Mae describes the diversity of her mother’s offspring, categorized by the ethni
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Delores Phillips was born in Georgia. She is a graduate of Cleveland State University and works as a nurse in a facility for abused women and children in Cleveland. This is her first novel.

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