Book Review: Walking Among The Kudzu
Publication Date: Nov 16, 2010
List Price: $29.99
Format: Hardcover, 314 pages
Publisher: Author Solutions
Parent Company: Najafi Companies
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Book Reviewed by Emanuel Carpenter
In H. Victoria Hargro Atkerson's latest book, "Walking Among the Kudzu," readers are taken on the journey of the life of Shelby Reed. Her mother, Flo is arguably the meanest woman on earth. So she must learn to deal with the situation of having an unloving mother, a deceased father, and a measly, two bedroom apartment in Chicago in the pre-Civil Rights era that mainly serves as a place for Flo to entertain her lowlife friends. Readers soon learn that Flo never even wanted children. Instead, she only wanted a child to please her husband, Shelby's father. After his untimely death, she reveals her deep-seated hatred of her daughter through words and action. But the eager-to-please Shelby still finds a way to try to win her mother's love.
It's not until Shelby becomes a teenager that she gets a reprieve from Mommy
Dearest when her father's sister sends for her to spend a summer in Atlanta
with her and her family. But once Shelby discovers that Aunt Helen, her fat
husband "The Reverend Theodore Jones," and her cousin Peggy are religious
fanatics, living with her mother in Chicago doesn't seem quite as bad. When
the family discovers that Shelby is unsaved, they put the pressure on to
join their church and become like them. When Shelby gets involved with the
good-looking, smooth-talking boy from church named Jonathan, she makes some
very adult decisions that ultimately change the course of her life. Just
like the kudzu vines that grow wild in Georgia, so does our protagonist.
Before it is all over, lies are discovered, shocking surprises are revealed,
and many tears are shed before it can all be made right.
Though her own flesh and blood disappoint her, she discovers the kindness strangers in a foster home headed by a woman known as Mama Moses. At the home, Shelby is given the chance to turn her life around. But to do so will mean she will need to let go of old habits, learn new skills, and learn what it means to have a family. The question is: will the teenager be able to make the changes that can change her life forever? Or will the circumstances of her past, the tragedy of her upbringing, and the decisions of her past life cause her to take a turn for the worse?
"Walking Among the Kudzu" is a page turner that will remind you of books such as "The Darkest Child," "Push," and even "The Color Purple." Readers who know a thing or two about the Civil Rights Era will enjoy this nostalgic tale. And those who enjoy a good story will have something to smile about as well. The characters from all walks of life feel like people you may know. Atkerson's natural writing skills will have you wondering how much of this novel comes from actual events. Though the ending is a bit mushy and predictable, and you might wish for more dialogue versus the first-person narration, it is still a very enjoyable story of hope, love, and redemption. You should definitely pick this one up.