Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Darkest Child” as Want to Read:
The Darkest Child
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Darkest Child

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  8,636 ratings  ·  1,057 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 ...more
Paperback, 390 pages
Published January 30th 2018 by Soho Press (first published 2004)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Darkest Child, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Labeebah Hasan
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,636 ratings  ·  1,057 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Darkest Child
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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.
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
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
Katisha Kersey
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, bookclub
Excellent read. The mystery behind the mom's mental illness was intriguing.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Barri Brown
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kierra J,
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rick Slane
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.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of the best books I've ever read.
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Monterica Neil
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
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 ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How do i rate a book with so much anger and resentment caged within, I'm grateful I came across this book and read it immediately.I couldn't put it down at the same I ddnt want anything to do with it.Beautifully written yet so sad, every emotion in me worked as I read through.Those kids went through hell and beneath.Such bitter story such a monster of a mother, I kind had a cue Mushy and Tara weren't going to end up well
Sheena at Hot Eats and Cool Reads
The cover of this book is absolutely beautiful to me, but I wish I could say the same for the content. Rozelle is a very evil person, called the devil's spawn by her own Mama. She is horribly abusive to her ten children and completely gets away with it. Tangy Mae is an amazing and strong girl who in my eyes, is a true hero. This book takes place during the civil rights era in the south, which makes it more real, and even harder to digest, the events that take place. This book hits a huge variety ...more
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know where to start with this book!

It's set in 1950s Georgia where Rozelle (Rosie) Quinn is living in extreme poverty with her ten children. She's a Black woman who's light enough to pass for white; all of her children are varying shades of light skin, expect for Tangy Mae--she's the darkest (and smartest) of the children. Rosie dislikes Tangy's dark skin and she thinks she's lazy because she would rather get her high school diploma instead of dropping out to find work.

Tangy Mae tells
Kylin Larsson
Set in a small Georgia town in the late 1950s through the mid 1960s, The Darkest Child is the story of a family dealing with physical abuse and mental illness in the midst of town in the early, violent process of desegregation. The majority of the story revolves around a portrait of Tangy Mae, along with her nine siblings, who are at the mercy of their mentally ill mother.

Tangy Mae and her sisters survive being prostituted, branded with irons, beaten with household objects, and mentally abused.
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not put this book down. Tangy Mae and her 9 siblings live in poverty with their mother, who is abusive and mentally unstable. The story takes place in 1958 in rural Georgia. Tangy has to live and survive not only the prejudice of others, but also that of her mother. Rozelle and most of her children are very light skinned, almost white and Tangy Mae is very dark skinned. Her mother hates her for it. Rozelle insists her children work and bring the money home to her. She even forces her ...more
Christy Hart
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my employees suggested I read this book and I was hooked from the first chapter. This is a well-written novel of a extremely poor black family - a single mother and her children. The mother is one of the most dysfunctional and unconscious characters I have encountered in a novel. The author skillfully illustrates the lives of the children and how they watch their mother with extra attention to try and predict her moods and behavior.

My sister loved it; my brother-in-law said it was too
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Perfect Peace
  • Fifth Born
  • Sugar (Sugar Lacey, #1)
  • This Bitter Earth (Sugar Lacey, #2)
  • They Tell Me of a Home
  • Silver Sparrow
  • The Coldest Winter Ever
  • In Search of Satisfaction
  • Loving Donovan
  • Malcolm and Me
  • Tinaca Jones
  • The Warmest December
  • The Untelling
  • The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
  • The Sacred Place
  • The Upper Room
  • Leaving Atlanta
  • Queen Sugar
See similar books…
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.
“What good are laws that cannot be read or understood, or a tongue that spews only hatred or ignorance? What good is the written word to an illiterate man?” 32 likes
“She denied and feared God in the same breath. She allowed our actions to shame her, and yet was void of shame. I truly believed there was something unnatural about her - a madness only her children could see. My yearning was not to understand it, but to escape it.” 16 likes
More quotes…