JoeyPinkney.com Book Review
Through the Eyes of My Mulatto Daughter
By Michele L. Waters
4 of 5 Stars
On the surface, Through the Eyes of My Mulatto Daughter by Michele L. Waters seemed like a tale of a husband and wife exhibiting the racial friction that’s the best known secret in America. However, Waters contributed a piece of literature that is simultaneously deeper than the racial divide between whites and blacks, yet fueled by the simplicity of racism. On one side, Through the Eyes of My Mulatto Daughter showed the nuances and complexities wrought by interracial marriages. Throughout the book, the reader will be racing through the pages, mouth agape at the horrid details conjured by Waters with the main character Britney Adams leading the way.
The relationship which brought together Brittney Adams’ parents was of anything but convenience. Richard Adams married Marilyn at a time in America where Black people were lynched for entertainment in a 1960s Alabama. Being a product of an unequivocally racist family with a staunch bigot as head of the household, Richard’s love was, if nothing else, transcendent. Loyal by nature, Marilyn reciprocated Richard’s risk with an unshakable love and devotion. Together, they braved the storm brewed by America’s history with race relations as they moved from Alabama to California and produced a beautiful daughter.
As Brittney matured, she saw the complexities of her family’s situation with a renewed clarity. Her father’s father, Herbert Adams, was filled with an intense hatred for blacks. Reflecting on the evil exuding from every childhood experience with him, Brittney saw Herbert reincarnated in Richard’s actions towards Marilyn in Richard’s later years. From the mental and verbal abuse to the virtual leash, Richard’s terrorism went past white and black.
Brittney founded and operates Ebony Eyes, a home for young, unwed mothers to have their babies in safety. Her clients keep her more than busy with their personality clashes. Brittney’s boyfriend, Matthew, is a parole officer that loves Brittney dearly and shows her the utmost respect. Brittney’s aunt Libby is the only person from her father’s side of the family that genuinely loves Brittney, Marilyn and Richard, despite the rest of Richard’s family completely disowning them.
Reading about a white man abusing his black wife behind the closed doors of their home-made me squirm in my seat. Reading about a woman enduring violence with blind allegiance had me shaking me head as the paragraphs breezed by. Yet, reading about daughter and a sister-in-law standing up to that tyrant and keeping it real and raw with that abused woman made my heart race with joy. That is the power of Waters’ ability to weave utterly convincing characters with equally petulant dialogue. The depth which Waters gives her characters is amazing. They are more than complex; they are realistic. From the maturation seen in Brittney to the development of Marilyn, the characters grow on you and make you want to see the best from them.
The book’s cover, although artistic, and title, although touching, doesn’t show the full power of Michele L. Waters’s novel. Based on the title, I would have expected a story about how Brittney digested and discussed her perspective of either of parent’s life dealing with the protecting their little girl from the cold world. Brittney was too intertwined in the story’s fast-paced plot twists to really reflect solely on the doings of her parents. Her confusion of her racial identity was mild at best. She simply wasn’t torn between being white or black.
The book cover is very interesting and very well-done. It shows a girl divided by her racial makeup: half-white, half-black. There is a difference between Brittney and the girl depicted on the cover. Described as having brown skin, light-brown and long, straight black hair, Brittney wasn’t confused about what she was. She knew she was biracial and strongly identified with her mother and being black.
There is a plot twist that runs through Through the Eyes of My Mulatto Daughter that really shows Waters prowess as a writer. Two surprise characters will make you truly recognize the brilliance of water’s literary mind. Once you tune into the way this story takes place, there is no way to finish this novel unaffected by the way Waters portrays the potential of the human condition.