Katrina Burchett's Reviews > Substitute Me

Substitute Me by Lori L. Tharps
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Aug 21, 2010

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Read from November 06 to 16, 2010

Kate Carter is ready to go back to work after maternity leave and she would like to hire a nanny. Zora Anderson, a college educated black woman, is in need of a job.

Zora was afraid of what her family thought of her chosen profession, but she didn’t let their narrow-minded opinions prevent her from doing what she loved to do. “They used to call it being a slave, but today the job is called being a nanny.” Those were Zora’s words on page 199. Nanny/Slave – I don’t see the comparison. Zora wasn’t being forced against her will to do the work she did for Kate and Brad. She chose to apply for the job and she was getting paid well. She was very good at what she did. She wasn’t just cleaning up after white people and raising their child; she was a professional and she deserved to be respected. Taking care of children takes skill and patience and lots of love for these little ones. Zora had all of that and using her talents to help a couple in need of her services was not beneath her. She had nothing to feel bad about. Now, the choice she made near the end of the story? That was something she shouldn’t have felt good about, and she didn’t.

I liked Angel (Zora’s closest friend in New York). She was a good friend to Zora and she was funny. She knew what she wanted out of life and nobody was going to stand in her way. It would have been nice if she didn’t use so much profanity, though.

Kate loved her job and she worked hard, and I admired that, but she put her work before her husband and her son. If she would have taken care of certain things herself (for instance, she should have been the one who made her husband tasty meals and had meaningful conversations with him at the dinner table), the outcome of this story could have been different. And even though Kate claimed to care about Zora, she seemed to believe a nanny was all this talented black woman could ever be, despite her dreams.
I did not like Kate’s friend Fiona, who thought she knew black women so well.

Favorable reviews helped me decide to buy this book. As I read the story, which is told from Zora and Kate’s alternating points of view, I kept thinking it was okay, but it wasn’t as entertaining or even as thought-provoking or as deep as I expected it to be. Reading about the everyday lives of the characters – their dreams and goals, their opinions about races other than their own, their professions – was kind of interesting, but there was nothing that made me eager to read on… until chapter twenty-nine (there are forty chapters). I wasn’t totally shocked by what happened, because I kind of figured it was coming, but after that I became very interested in how things were going to turn out. What choice was Zora going to make next? The ending was disappointing to me. Every feeling doesn’t have to be acted upon, especially when others will be hurt, lives altered and a relationship destroyed.

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Reading Progress

11/15/2010 page 246
67.0% "I saw that comin'. I wonder what's going to happen now?"

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