From Liberty to Magnolia, In search of the American Dream ISBN: 9781641147521, Christian Faith Publishing, a Memoir by Janice S. Ellis, PhD.
Perhaps the best way to describe this book is to provide material from the Forward followed by a few of the details. This story “is a true, powerful, and compelling story about the enduring scourge of racism and sexism in America. It is a personal account of how that bane of evil plays out in the lives of blacks and women despite the great promise of the American Dream being available to and achievable by everyone. It shows how, more often than not, access to the playing field and the rules of the game are not fairly applied among men and women, blacks and whites, even when they come prepared with equal or better qualifications and value sets to play the game.” It covers the period from when she was born on a small farm in Mississippi situated between two small towns just miles from the Louisiana border up to the present. The birthplace is of importance because it was in the days when racism still was at its worst and Mississippi which was “the poorest and most racist state in the Union and Louisiana is second.” There then follows Part 1 that is a rather extensive recounting of her early childhood with many descriptions of intercourse with her mother, father, family, teachers and acquaintances. Then a recounting of her first marriage which degenerated into an abusive relationship which she endured because of the beliefs instilled in her from her earliest days until a divorce resulted largely because of the husband’s insistence. Then descriptions of her dogged tenacity of purpose to continue attempting to advance in business, politics and entrepreneurial endeavors simultaneously earning a living for herself and her children and still managing to advance to attain her long desired PhD. She describes in detail constant encounters with “conflicting cultural principles and practices, dual morality and mores” as she attempts to advance in her multiple endeavors.
Discussion/Conclusion: This author has written one of the most detailed memoirs this reviewer ever has read and no doubt, has experienced a well-deserved catharsis. Further, she has described many instances and activities that perhaps were not particularly well thought out. However, many of her offerings would be well worth a reader’s time to give second thoughts. So, if memoir and/or the subjects of racism, sexism and or cultural differences are within your sphere of interest, you will find much to ponder in this book.
5* For readers interested in memoirs, racism, sexism, cultural elements.