Praised as "sweeping" and "ambitious" for lacing complex genealogies with key moments throughout history, generational sagas can quickly amass mythical proportions as dramatic events ripple with consequence. The past, portrayed as a force which shapes contemporary lives, becomes something to honor, accept, or struggle against depending on each character's inclinations. On its surface, the story of the Mayfields seems to follow the familiar trajectory from tragedy to triumph, beginning with Mah Bette (a slave) and Julius Mayfield (Sweet Tamarind's plantation owner), branching out further when two assaults result in births, and concluding with concern toward others in need - but sisters and co-authors Shange and Bayeza enrich such potentially charged material in commendable ways.
They do not render women's efforts to prevail as sentimental acts of heroism, but instead, convey them ...
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