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An unborn child narrates Cooper's earthy fourth novel, which, through a minute exploration of the lives and loves of the residents of Dream Street in the town of Place, aims to unveil the vastness of human experience. At the heart of the novel is the narrator's future mother, Eula Too. Born to a poor African-American family in a small town outside of Chicago, Eula Too spent her early years caring for her numerous younger siblings, finding time to sneak away for lessons with a beloved teacher and letting an impotent chauffeur touch her for spending money. When she eventually flees home, hoping for a better life in Depression-era Chicago, she is raped and abandoned, only to be discovered by the rich owner of a high-class brothel. Madame LaFon takes Eula Too in, not as a future prostitute but as a friend. The years pass and Eula Too, now a loving, moral young woman, accompanies Madame to her hometown of Place, where she endeavors to turn the neighborhood into a haven of love and goodwill. A certain didacticism-about politics, rich-poor relations and the importance of morality-gives the tale added depth, if also a kind of heavy-handedness. Cooper's (The Wake of the Wind) simple, plain writing and unequivocal regard for all people stand out in a novel scattered in narrative but united in its humanity. Agent, Anna Ghosh. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
I have not been born . . . yet, Cooper begins her intriguing novel, which features a not-yet-born narrator following the life of her chosen family. The not yet born have some freedom to choose their families and possess knowledge of life and people that they gradually lose after birth. The narrator provides running commentary on world events, human frailty, and the life of her poor black descendants as they move from sharecropping in the rural South to Chicago and finally a small town called Place, under much improved circumstances. Eula Too, the narrator's mother-to-be, survives grinding poverty and rape at a tender age to find refuge as a companion to a wealthy white woman operating a high-class brothel. Madame and Eula Too develop a binding friendship that serves as the nexus for examining friendships and family relationships across generations, race and ethnicity, and class against the backdrop of the Depression, the world wars, and the civil rights movement. Cooper's universal sensibilities and strong character development are on full display in this provocative novel. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist
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The voice of a Spirit not yet born into the world but with a few things to teach us about life, hope, and love narrates Cooper's fourth novel (after The Wake of the Wind). In this combination of novel and fable, the author notes that she envisioned a locale named Dream Street with a row of houses that held histories within their walls. Eula, a gentle yet courageous black woman, leads the reader to these houses and to a diverse group of residents whose lives intertwine under Eula's guidance. The first half is somewhat arduous in its detail of the long path that brings Eula to Dream Street. Once she arrives, however, the pace quickens. Using the recurring voice of the Spirit, Cooper seems to weave in her own beliefs as well as her hopes for a kinder, more universal spirituality. Cooper could well be called "The Grandma Moses of American Letters" in that her relatively simple, unvarnished style has a unique and captivating charm that clearly comes from the heart. Recommended for all fiction collections. Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.