JEANINE COLLINS MALARSKY
Write Words, Inc.
Rating: 3 Cups
Jeanine is growing up in a dysfunctional family during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Her family is very poor and must travel around the country to find work. Although Jeanine is bright it is difficult changing schools so often.
Jeanine’s family consists of two sisters, Anita and Sheila, and two brothers, Dennis and Darel. Anita is the eldest daughter and ends up doing a lot of the housework and taking care of the other children. Dennis does a lot of the outside work with his father. Both of Jeanine’s parents have some serious mental health issues, with her mother being the most abusive and neglecting.
The five children endure much pain at the hand of Jeanine’s mother, who is obviously mentally ill. Each chapter is almost like a short story giving snapshots of Jeanine’s childhood spanning from pre-school to college. Jeanine was the least favored child who felt intelligent but unattractive. Constantly changing schools and relying on the charity of others only made her feel worse about herself. It is heart-wrenching to feel Jeanine’s pain, yet her perseverance is very inspiring.
Black Raspberries is told through the point of view of Jeanine, who is only a small child at the start of the book. She is treated very unfairly in comparison to her siblings, but they all had their hardships. They all endured both mental and physical abuse from their mother. The problems I had with this book are that there is no plot and the line between fiction and non-fiction is unclear. It is told as if it were non-fiction. The author is Jeanine and she also updates the reader periodically about her siblings and at the end describes her relationship with them today. Even though it is classified as fiction, the reader is left confused as to what is truth and what is not. The writing is well done and the author appears to be a natural storyteller.
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