Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

Daughter
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message 1: by Michael (last edited May 01, 2015 06:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michael | 432 comments Hello everyone and welcome to May! Columbus has asked me to lead the discussion of Daughter this month, so let's get started...

Daughter was written by asha bandele, who, according to her Goodreads' profile, is "[a]n award-winning author and journalist, [who] first attained recognition when she penned her 1999 debut book, The Prisoner's Wife: A Memoir, a powerful, lyrical memoir about a young Black woman’s romance and marriage with a man who was serving a twenty-to-life sentence in prison." It looks like she chooses to use lower case for her name, which seems to cause some difficulty for some websites (for example, Goodreads).

Daughter was published in 2003, four years after The Prisoner's Wife: A Memoir, and it is a fictional story centered around ninteen-year-old Aya, "a promising Black college student from Brooklyn who is struggling through a difficult relationship with her emotionally distant mother, Miriam". The book covers the issue of police violence in African American communities, and so is a rather relevant and poignant topic in the United States this month. I am finishing up the book now, and can say that not only is it a painful topic, it covers a lot of painful emotions and happenings as the story unfolds. I'm sure there will be a lot to talk about with this one.

I'm having trouble finding any reviews of the book that don't contain major spoilers, but here are some snippets from two of them (I left out the spoilers, so these should be safe to read!):

Publishers Weekly: "Bandele tells her story in simple language, though plaintive asides ("have you ever told me a joke, Mommy, or kissed me just because?"), and italicized laments ("Oh God, didn't I pay with Bird?") give the novel a sentimental veneer. Bandele's low-key take on a grim aspect of the urban black experience stands in refreshing contrast to more sensationalistic renditions, but Miriam's muddled final epiphany will leave readers wishing for something more."

Nubian Circle Book Club: "This book is well written with lyrical language and expert handling of flashback episodes. It is filled with themes of lost loves and frustrations of men who are beaten down by racial inequality, police brutality, economic oppression, and the women who stand by them and lose themselves in the struggle. It will cause women everywhere to rethink their positions as wives, mothers, and daughters and become lovers of themselves in the spirit that Miriam and Aya embrace and the same one that Sonia Sanchez referenced when she wrote, "I shall be a collector of me." "daughter" is highly recommended though it maybe a bit too introspective and/or slow paced for some readers."

I also found a lovely appearance by asha bandele on youtube where she talks about writing as a Black woman and reads from her second memoir, Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother's Story. You can view it here in two parts.

Daughter is divided into two parts, and I noticed Part One has a somewhat natural breaking point between Chapters 7 and 8. So maybe we can spend a week each on three sections: Ch 1 - 7; Ch 8 - 16; ch 17 - 24.

But first, let's spend the first few days with introductions. Who else is out there who plans to read or has already read this one? Have any of you read other of asha bandele's works? Any first impressions or impressions of her writing style?


Domonique | 21 comments Yes, I plan to read it as long as I can get it from my library. This will be my first book by this author and I'm looking forward to it!


message 3: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2880 comments Mod
I have read this book and her two memoirs. So will be interested in reading what others think.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I have my copy and am looking forward to the discussion.


Michael | 432 comments Thanks for checking in!

Domonique, good luck with the library!

Beverly, sounds like you are a fan of her writing?

Karen Michele - any first impressions?

Anybody else out there reading the book who wants to check in?


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I have a few books to finish up first, but I should get started on Daughter soon.


message 7: by Sharon (new) - added it

Sharon (sassysoulsharon) | 8 comments This is my first reading of asha bandele. As a single mother of now-grown daughters, this telling seems real and relevant and touching. I'm eager to participate in this group reading experience. The different perspectives always excite and sharpen my personal focus.


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I am checking in but won't be reading the book due to it being unavailable and both my libraries. :( I am so missing out on Michael great leading of discussions. Have a great discussion.


Michael | 432 comments Karen Michele wrote: "I have a few books to finish up first, but I should get started on Daughter soon."

Ok, we'll await your impressions!


Michael | 432 comments Sharon wrote: "This is my first reading of asha bandele. As a single mother of now-grown daughters, this telling seems real and relevant and touching. I'm eager to participate in this group reading experience. Th..."

Glad to have you!


Michael | 432 comments Rebecca wrote: "I am checking in but won't be reading the book due to it being unavailable and both my libraries. :( I am so missing out on Michael great leading of discussions. Have a great discussion."

Thanks for the post, Rebecca, we'll miss your comments on this one!

For anyone still trying to track down the book, I noticed it is listed under $4 including shipping at Better World Books and also at eBay.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I have finished through chapter 7 now and I am enjoying the book so far. I find her writing to be solid and the plot is engaging. I was already struck by one point made. When Aya is ready to go out running, Miriam tells her that her outfit makes her look like a man. She says then that "it always matters" what Aya looks like when she goes out. My first thought was that Aya would be safer on the streets running if she looked like a man (I tend to be fearful for my daughter's safety when she is out alone), but I realized that was coming from a point of view that didn't consider the safety of a black man running on the street, but came from my own experience raising a son and a daughter in a fairly rural area. And just as I am writing this, I am hearing another breaking news report from the other room of a police shooting, but thankfully I am hearing now that this suspect was not shot after all. I hope I made sense of that message - I'm half listening to the news still as I write.


message 13: by Jo (new)

Jo | 1 comments I read the Prisoner's Wife and plan to start Daughter this week. Looking forward to it.


George | 759 comments Just finished the book yesterday and quite liked it. It could hardly be more timely, I'm sorry to say.


Michael | 432 comments I agree, George, sad but true particularly since it was written over 10 years ago. Glad to have you in the discussion; Jo, too!

Karen Michele - glad you're enjoying it and you are finding food for thought. I'll check in again tomorrow to see who else may be reading and then we can schedule the dates to discuss each section, if that works for everyone.


George | 759 comments unfortunately, as the book makes quite clear, there's nothing new about it.


Michael | 432 comments Okay, it looks like Beverly, George, Karen Michele, and I have all read at least through Chapter 7, and we have some other folks planning to start soon. Should we start discussing through Chapter 7 today? Here is a possible schedule:

May 6: discussion through Chapter 7
May 13: discussion through Chapter 16*
May 20: entire book open for discussion

Does that give people who are just starting enough time to catch up?

*Note that the end of Part I is technically Chapter 17, but that last chapter raises so many questions that I think we should only discuss through Chapter 16 in the second week. I propose we wait until May 20 to discuss that chapter, unless there is disagreement...


Domonique | 21 comments Just got my copy from the library and I'm looking forward to starting it tonight!


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments The schedule looks fine to me.


Michael | 432 comments Okay, as I am looking at the first 7 chapters, here is what I see:

Aya is living at home with her mother and taking college courses after spending more than a year in jail for stabbing a man. She had lied to her mother and gone home with the man after just meeting him at a club, and when she changed her mind about their sexual interaction, he wouldn't take "no" for an answer, and she stabbed him with his own knife. Things seem to be going well now that she is out of prison, but one night when she goes for a run, she is shot by police officers who confuse her for a male suspect in a robbery and shooting. Her mother goes to the hospital and keeps vigil over her "cold", "still" daughter, and struggles with memories of her childhood - memories which she has blocked, having "spent the last twenty years of her life trying to reorder the first twenty."

As we close out Chapter 7, we have seen how a teenage Miriam wants an escape from her parents' household, and meets Bird, an older man working as a janitor at her highschool, and they have an immediate connection, and seem to really see each other. Despite the fact that Miriam feels her parents will never allow their relationship, she breaks down and sees him behind their backs.


Did I leave anything out? Miriam's overwhelming feelings at the hospital, her disorientation and the way her memories are almost pulled out of her left some of this a little muddled for me, but hopefully I've summarized the main points.

There is a lot going on here - Aya's attempts to follow her mother's rules, her attempts to make up for the mistake that put her in jail, Miriam dealing with Aya's shooting and the injustice of it. Additionally, there are Miriam's memories struggling to break free, and a recounting of Miriam's struggles to follow her own mother's rules when she was a child, and Miriam's need to be seen and find a true family with someone.

Where should we start? If we just look at Chapter One, it might be interesting to talk about the night that ended with Aya stabbing Robert, whom she had just met. What did everyone think of that scene? Were you surprised at the situation, or at Aya's actions? How would you have reacted if you were her parent? The same way as Miriam?

That's just an idea, but we can talk about any of the other themes I mentioned, or anything that comes to mind. Please remember to keep any spoilers restricted to the first seven chapters, though - we aren't discussing the rest of the book yet!


Domonique | 21 comments Michael wrote: "Okay, as I am looking at the first 7 chapters, here is what I see:

Aya is living at home with her mother and taking college courses after spending more than a year in jail for stabbing a man. She..."


I was actually surprised more didn't happen to Aya and her friend, I thought someone was going to end up getting raped or stabbed. Going home with a guy you just met is such a bad idea, and as I was reading that chapter, all I could think about was all the warnings my mom always gave me never to talk to strangers and definitely don't go home with one and whatever else, always put yourself first and look out for you.

I wasn't surprised at Aya's actions because she was described as the type of girl who would do something like this and it felt as if she was trying to grow up too soon and instead of enjoying being a kid, she was just trying to jump straight into womanhood.


Michael | 432 comments Thanks for posting your thoughts, Domonique, sounds like you're getting a good start on the book!

I felt similarly in that I was worried that worse was going to happen. You raise a good point about all the warnings your mom gave you: Miriam seems to have the opposite philosophy of "I don't have to give her specific warnings because I'm going to raise her right and never let her get into trouble." But of course that plan seems fairly naive about children's independence and the inevitability of rebellion. It reminds me of the STD outbreak in the school with no sex-ed that was in the news this week. The "we don't talk about it" philosophy can certainly backfire.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I was surprised that Miriam showed more anger towards Aya's stupid choice and anger and rejection of her when she was sent to jail than she verbalized toward the man she stabbed. It seemed that in Miriam's view, the fact that Aya behaved stupidly (which, granted, she did) negated the fear she must have felt as she realized her grave error in judgement. I guess it's just so different from my own parenting style that it was hard for me to relate to Miriam's reaction and her rejection of her daughter.


Domonique | 21 comments Karen Michele wrote: "I was surprised that Miriam showed more anger towards Aya's stupid choice and anger and rejection of her when she was sent to jail than she verbalized toward the man she stabbed. It seemed that in ..."

I agree Karen, even though I don't have children yet, and even though I would have been upset over the choice my daughter made that led her to being in a stranger's apartment, I also would have been angry towards the man that tried to harm her.


message 25: by Michael (last edited May 08, 2015 11:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michael | 432 comments One thing that made me sad was how Miriam put distance between them once Aya went to jail. There's no way that being in jail could have been easy for Aya, and to not have any support and barely any contact with her mother would have been very traumatic, I think. And not just for Aya, but for Miriam as well. I see that she doesn't want Aya to think what she did was okay, but I think there must be a way to "be there" for someone while still acknowledging that she is accepting the consequences of her actions.

Even when Aya got back, Miriam had put herself in the habit of distance, and was unable to claim/cherish her daughter again. I really thought that was heartbreaking.


Domonique | 21 comments I agree Michael, it really was. Going to jail had to be scary for Aya and instead of being there for her daughter, she just closed herself off. Instead of being a mother to her daughter, she just left her to fend for herself. It both saddened and angered me.


message 27: by Karen Michele (last edited May 09, 2015 06:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I was also struck with how fully Miriam abandoned Aya when she went to prison. I am hoping to see growth in Miriam as I continue with the next chapters of the book.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I have finished Part One now, so I will be ready to discuss through chapter 16 when everyone else is ready.


Michael | 432 comments Karen Michele wrote: "I have finished Part One now, so I will be ready to discuss through chapter 16 when everyone else is ready."

Great, Karen Michele. I think we'll still plan for Wednesday to talk about the rest of Part One. I definitely want others to have the chance to catch up if they are reading.

As far as the subject of Miriam and growth, was anyone surprised to see how different her personality was when she was young? (Chapters 6 & 7) I definitely didn't expect to see a romantic woman looking to find her dreams and really be seen and heard by someone special. She is so business-like in the current day. I thought it was interesting that current day Miriam actually reminds me a lot more of her parents - anyone else think that?


message 30: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1031 comments Michael wrote: "Thanks for checking in!

Domonique, good luck with the library!

Beverly, sounds like you are a fan of her writing?

Karen Michele - any first impressions?

Anybody else out there reading the book ..."


just piping in quickly to say that i'll pick my copy of the book tomorrow.


Domonique | 21 comments I agree Michael, I was surprised Miriam was such a free spirit, once away from her parents strict rules and responsibilities that is. She seemed more like her own daughter but clearly something happened to change her into the woman she became, more like her own mother. And I know it involves Bird.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I also agree. Miriam seems to be willing to take some risks as a young girl, but I'm wondering how this will all evolve and what events will explain her distance from Aya. Often single moms I have seen (although I know this is a generalization) become even more strongly bonded to their children and it will be interesting to find out what made Miriam so detached as a mom.


Michael | 432 comments jo wrote: "just piping in quickly to say that i'll pick my copy of the book tomorrow. "

Sounds great, thanks for checking in jo!


message 34: by Michael (last edited May 11, 2015 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michael | 432 comments Domonique wrote: "... clearly something happened to change her into the woman she became"

Karen Michele wrote: "... it will be interesting to find out what made Miriam so detached as a mom. "

Yes, I will be interested to see if folks think what happens explains her change in a satisfactory way. We can certainly revisit this at the end of the book...

Meanwhile, I wonder if people have thoughts about the shooting. Unfortunately, I don't think the author had to explain the details very much because it is such a common symptom of the culture of racism in this country. The recent headlines in Baltimore are just the latest in a depressing deluge. The police shooting of Aya brings a critical modern issue to the foreground, and I thought of some questions as I read the details in Chapters 2, 3, and 4:

Did it matter that Aya was a woman being shot? Did the story that the police thought she was a man change your reaction in any way? Karen Michele touched on this issue already when comparing white male/female running safety to Black male/female running safety. I remember my first reaction was that it matched my expectations about police violence against Black men, but then I wondered if it sold the problem of violence against Black women short somehow. I found these articles that may be relevant when thinking about this:

No One Showed Up To Rally for Rekia

Black Women Are Killed By Police Too

Did it matter that asha bandele placed the current time in the 1990's, even though it was published in 2003? Did it affect the immediacy of the issue of police racist violence? Do you think the book is more/less relevant to this topic today than it was 10 years ago? The earlier setting made me wonder if she set it a decade earlier to provide historical distance, or if it just better fit her plot elements of Aya reaching for her Walkman, and Bird being in the Vietnam War.


Domonique | 21 comments Michael wrote: "Domonique wrote: "... clearly something happened to change her into the woman she became"

Karen Michele wrote: "... it will be interesting to find out what made Miriam so detached as a mom. "

Yes..."


I was actually surprised that from her stature and the shape of her body, the cops did not realize that she was a woman. And not only that, and of course the author didn't delve into this too much, but aren't you supposed to ask a person questions before you just pull out a gun and start shooting? Don't just assume they are the person that you are looking for just because the description happens to match; a lot of people jog in sweatpants these days and I'm sure the majority of them are not criminals.

The police believing that she was a man was just an excuse in my opinion to justify that their actions were right. They don't want to be blamed for gunning down an innocent person because then it will reflect badly not only on them, but on all cops so instead they throw the blame off of themselves so that they don't feel guilty. I think this topic is still very much relevant today, especially in light of all the shootings that have been happening recently.


George | 759 comments well, either they saw what they expected to see or didn't take the time to see much of anything and simply automatically reacted with deadly force, secure in the obviously correct belief that the system would protect them if they were wrong. But it begs the question as to whether their use of deadly force was justified in any case, whether their assumptions were right or wrong. Certainly, there is no indication they were personally in any danger, no possible threat of any kind


Domonique | 21 comments George wrote: "well, either they saw what they expected to see or didn't take the time to see much of anything and simply automatically reacted with deadly force, secure in the obviously correct belief that the s..."

Exactly, well said George


George | 759 comments thanks, Domonique.


Michael | 432 comments Domonique wrote: "a lot of people jog in sweatpants these days and I'm sure the majority of them are not criminals."

Exactly!

George wrote: "there is no indication they were personally in any danger, no possible threat of any kind "

I read something recently that compared "afraid for your life" versus "life-threatening". White culture/police culture often confuse the two, which is a deadly problem in a racist society because the culture teaches us to be afraid (for our lives) around Black men, for example, even when we are not actually in any visible danger. And then this culture uses that fear (George Zimmerman) to justify homicide. It's insanely circular, and Aya appears to be another victim of that.

I said Black "men" above, do people think a similar fear is created of Black women? Or is it simply a devaluing of the lives of Black women when police shoot Black women who they know are women? I guess I'm wondering if it would have gone any differently if there had been a lethal robbery and no one knew if it was a man or a woman and Aya was running in the area and again reached for her Walkman? Maybe that is what you are saying, Domonique, about it just being an excuse - no matter what the circumstances, an excuse will be found.


George | 759 comments Well, we had the one fellow in Michigan who shot through his door and killed a woman on his porch late one night. So, clearly some folks don't distinguish between black men and women on this score. Of course, at least he was actually found guilty. Had he been outside, maybe the jury would have found in his favor.

I suppose the fact that an excuse must be found is some sort of improvement in a society where traditionally black lives did not matter.


Domonique | 21 comments George wrote: "Well, we had the one fellow in Michigan who shot through his door and killed a woman on his porch late one night. So, clearly some folks don't distinguish between black men and women on this score..."

And that's really the worst part of all, George, the fact that black lives don't seem to matter. It feels like we take one step forward just to take two steps back.


George | 759 comments well, at least we keep moving. However, yes not all movement is forward by any stretch of the imagination. I would say though that the fact we are having serious discussions on whether or not police killing black men is justified or not is a step forward, apart from the rather more serious fact that it keeps happening.

Having grown up down South in the 50s and 60s, I still find it noteworthy that a white cop was arrested in South Carolina for shooting a black man while he was running away. I'm not sure that wouldn't have been a man bites dog story back then. wouldn't have mattered had it been filmed or not.

I do find it interesting that we keep seeing more and more of these stories of late, given the obvious fact there ain't nothing remotely new about it. I'd like to think that's a sign of progress, even if I'm not sure that's entirely true. It is at least true to the extent that not only are black people less willing to accept it, they actually expect and demand the police and governments, local, state and national to do something about it.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I just saw that George Zimmerman was arrested again recently for a road rage incident. It's on Vox.com, but for some reason Goodreads is not letting me paste the link. I watched the trial and was so saddened by the way the "fear of a young black man" played out. I am glad the conversation and news coverage of Zimmerman is continuing. I also think a lot of it comes down to who is powerful and who is powerless (and therefore living a life that doesn't matter). We had a police shooting in Seattle a couple of years back caught on video that was obviously unwarranted (he was carving wood with a knife as he walked along and not threatening anyone) and took the life of a Native Alaskan man who was well known in the community. It does feel like it's one step forward and two steps back like Domonique said. Another book I read recently opened my eyes to other ways in which a culture of fear of those who are different has been built into white culture's mindset:
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. In Daughter, we see the fear play out as Aya is shot running and not while threatening anyone. Perhaps Bandele wanted to show just how clearly the police made a mistake since not only was Aya a victim of misplaced fear, but it could be easily proved that she was never the criminal in the first place.


Michael | 432 comments Insightful comments, everyone!

I also hope that it is a sign of progress that we see more visibility/outrage at police shootings of unarmed Black people. It is hard to tell until something actually changes. I wasn't around in the 50's/60's, but I've read the theory that the images of nonviolent Black people being sprayed with hoses and attacked by police and dogs swayed white people's sentiment toward Civil Rights. It is hard (but not impossible) to argue with pictures. I know white people who have seen cell phone videos of police violence and still say it is the fault of the Black person, but many more are horrified and disgusted at evidence of racist violence. Black people already know this happens every day; some white people are just now opening their eyes, and hopefully will be moved to support meaningful changes.


Michael | 432 comments According to our discussion schedule, the book is now open for discussion through Chapter 16. As we transition to talking about the rest of Part One, I'm thinking about the "keep it moving" survival tactic that many of the characters in the book exemplify. Bird describes this in Chapter 9:

"In slavery you just had to keep it moving, even when they snatched or killed your children. Had to do it to stay alive, to keep your other children alive. What's different when they come for your children now? They get one, you still got to look out for the others or they'll get them, too. That's why we don't really talk. We always got to keep it moving because if we ever stop to think about what's really going on, what we're really up against, we think it would kill us. Just might." - Chapter 9, p. 98.

Miriam embraces this philosophy by not talking about her past with Aya. In fact, it has become part of her nature to deny her memories:

"... Miriam thought about when she had first moved to this neighborhood, the hard mean days that had brought her and her baby girl here. As fast as the thought came, however, Miriam let it go. Without even trying, and without a break in her step, Miriam let the thought go, and she just continued on, and she did not look back." - Chapter 1, page 22.

Miriam's parents preached this philosophy of never looking back to Miriam. And even Aya, to some degree, seems to feel this, as shown in her motivation for running:

"When Aya ran, there was no more fence and lock-in time. No more terrible food. No more visits and letters that didn't come. No more loneliness or sense of displacement. No more attack in a nasty loft apartment in the Bronx. No more missing her father. Running, Aya could hear her father's voice, she could feel him, as though he was there, encouraging her around the track. Her father, with a stopwatch and whistle. Running, there were so many fantasies though they didn't seem fantastic." - Chapter 2, page 31.

What do people think of this survival tactic? Can dwelling on the past kill you? Not looking back seems to offer a chance at survival, at a price. Is the price too great?


message 46: by Domonique (last edited May 13, 2015 07:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Domonique | 21 comments I don't necessarily feel that dwelling on the past can kill you, you have to look back at the past, see where you came from in order to figure out where you're going. And ignoring your past won't change what happened, it's better to just embrace it and move on as your past helps define who you are as a person and also who we are as a people.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I think that the price of this survival tactic can be numbing your emotions to everything and that may be the behavior Miriam is showing. The hurt is blocked, but so is the joy and coping means living with rules and behaviors that get you through each day, but in an almost zombie-like state.


Domonique | 21 comments Karen Michele wrote: "I think that the price of this survival tactic can be numbing your emotions to everything and that may be the behavior Miriam is showing. The hurt is blocked, but so is the joy and coping means liv..."

Yes, I think that's true, but you can't go through life not feeling and not living it. You have to push through the hurt to get to the joy.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments Domonique wrote: "Karen Michele wrote: "I think that the price of this survival tactic can be numbing your emotions to everything and that may be the behavior Miriam is showing. The hurt is blocked, but so is the jo..."

I agree and hope that Miriam pushes through and realizes this as the book progresses. I hope she learns that living in the world and loving her daughter is worth remembering the pain of her past if that's what it takes, and if that's why she is so detached emotionally.


message 50: by Michael (last edited May 14, 2015 05:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michael | 432 comments Domonique wrote: "Yes, I think that's true, but you can't go through life not feeling and not living it. You have to push through the hurt to get to the joy."

It does seem you cannot have joy without sorrow, they are intertwined. One thing I was thinking when Bird made the comparison to losing children while suffering slavery, was that in some situations, there is so much more pain than joy, that maybe the compromise makes sense, to feel nothing, to push toward a *practical* future, but not allow for hope, in order that some future generation might be able to let their guard down. But it would be hard for future generations to unlearn this tactic if that is all their parents had taught them, right? I don't remember that we ever learned any specific reason for Miriam's parents to live this way, does anyone remember? We don't know yet what happened to Miriam, but certainly Aya's life hasn't been painful enough to warrant it. Even Bird says that about his own life:

"Walking down the ramshackle streets that bordered the school. Waiting for a train to come amid the dirt and exhausted people and rats scurrying along the tracks. He was happy, excited because, he said, it wasn't the jungle and living was what he could see right there, in the reachable distance. Not death... Despite all that made life back here in Brooklyn a struggle, despite days that sagged at their center, here Bird could always call himself back to hope, back to vision." - Chapter 11, p. 112


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