A story of complex relationships among enslaved people and the people who hold themby Meredith Sue Willis
Marlen Suyapa Bodden's new book THE WEDDING GIFT is the story of complex relationships among enslaved people and the people who hold them in bondage during the decade before the Civil War. The novel is told in the alternating view points of Sarah Campbell, a light skinned young slave woman who learns reluctantly where her mother goes at night as well as how to read and write, and Theodora Allen, the white lady of the plantation who discovers that her husband is both the father of her own daughter and of Sarah. The novel has a powerful momentum that drives it forward: How badly will Mr. Allen treat the women in his life? How much evil will he perpetuate on his slaves? Who will live and who will die? Will Sarah be able to use her intelligence and skills at last to make a run? The final quarter of the novel alone has enough plot material for another two books. In spite of horrors and suffering, this is a novel in which the human spirit rises up triumphant.
Review by Meredith Sue Willis, educator at New York University's School of Continuing Education and author of A Space Apart and Oradell at Sea, among other novels and children's books.