Book Review: Momma: Gone
by Nina Foxx
Book Reviewed by Tony Lindsay
Nina Foxx’s personal story Momma: Gone is full of literary surprises. The reader’s expectations and predictions that are garnered from the story-line are constantly misdirected. For example, the reader meets the child protagonist sitting atop a bar’s jukebox. The child, Sweetie, is with her inebriated mother; one thinks the story will about a child being raised by an alcoholic, and in part that is true, but the story grows far beyond parental alcoholism.
An astute pubescent child is forced to deal with a major lost, and that is what makes this work intriguing. Witnessing a young girl going through grief while attempting to progress through childhood was surprising and heartfelt. Sweetie loses her mother to cancer, and that drastically changes her life; everything that was … is no longer: stable home-life, good school status, the guiding relationship with her father, the protection of her older brother, and the loving direction and care of her mother – all gone. Losing all these substantial components of her life drains Sweetie, and death changes her from a bight precocious child to a pensive planner.
Foxx with literary dexterity takes the readers inside of Sweetie’s pain; one experiences her missing her mom’s care, specifically her mother combing her hair and the choosing and matching of her daily school clothes. Sweetie misses the feels, the sounds, the scents, and the sights of her mother. She holds onto her mother by following her mother’s rules, by incorporating her mother’s attitudes about people and situations. Sweetie survives by doing what her mother would do. Foxx creates this dependence on memory to help Sweetie find her own voice and legs. The reader will find themselves angry (practically with adults that should be care givers), worry filled (while Sweetie is in the care non-family caregiver), and anxious (with her battles at school, the Klan, and a pedophile). Despite the disappointment the reader experiences with the adult members of Sweetie’s family, it is family that rescues Sweetie. When she returns from dipping her toes into her southern ancestral pool, a confidence that only comes from the elders moves through her essence, and the novel again surprises as Sweetie change influences others. Momma: Gone is a personal story, one that most will enjoy.