The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner
This novel is set in South Carolina, America’s Deep South, and is written with Southern dialogue and idioms. Bonnie Wilder narrates the story about her community of Canaan Creek while sitting on her porch in 1985 and looking back at the years of 1957 and ’58. Bonnie’s tale interested and horrified me: her community is all African American at a time when there was no integration and a great deal of racism, but it is all just part of Bonnie’s life.
The book, though, is a satisfying story about Bonnie and her friends’ lives, their friendships, and their great adventure. It begins when a letter arrives for Bonnie. ‘Dear Miss Wilder,’ it says, ‘I’m hoping to find out who my real mother is.’ What a shock for Bonnie and her closest friend, Thora Dean, to receive this note from one of the unwanted babies they found loving homes for back in ’57-’58. The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner came into being after Bonnie’s husband, Naz, found a dead baby in the local creek, and quiet Bonnie was provoked into speech at the town meeting. She hated the vindictive attitude towards the mother and wanted to help mothers with unwanted children. ‘Bring the child to me,’ she said, and so they were brought. Each baby found a home and happiness. Members of the sisterhood, like devastated widow Ruby-Pearl, found a new meaning to life – and then it all came tumbling down.
Though written by an African-American author for an American audience, the book is worth reading by anyone who does not know what racism in the USA was like, especially as the book is not a rant against racism but simply a description of how it was. For non-Americans, it’s an eye opener as well as a fascinating story.