Sarah's Reviews > Wench

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
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's review
May 13, 2011

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bookshelves: adult, slavery, survival, african-american, civil-rights, historical-fiction, labor, multicultural, south

It's the 1850's, and abolition is slowly spreading through the Northern states. But white men in the South still own slaves, and aren't quite ready to release them to freedom. This story follows 4 black mistresses, who are owned by white men. These men are able to take them up to Ohio every summer for some R & R at the Tawawa House, a resort that caters especially to these types of arrangements. The main character is Lizzie, and she has been owned by her master Drayle most of her life. She has been his mistress for years, and is constantly berated and chastised. She has also birthed two of his children, as his white wife is unable to conceive. Lizzie's emotions are mixed, as she yearns for freedom, and worries about her children's futures. She attempts to please his whims and caters to his desires, and receives special treatment in return (i.e. her own room in the big house, better food and clothing, the hope of education for her children). She feels she loves him, but if he loves her, why won't he let her be free? Lizzie makes friends with other black mistresses at the Tawawa House, Mawu, Sweet and Reenie. These women suffer unimaginiable hardship and horrid abuse, but as slaves in the South, options are limited. My mom introduced me to Wench after we both read The Help and Little Bee. All are good reminders of how recent slavery existed in America's past, and how horrid humans can treat each other.

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