Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Celeste's Harlem Renaissance Eleanora E. Tate

Celeste's Harlem Renaissance by Eleanora E. Tate 13yr old Celeste lives with her father and aunt Society in Raleigh North Carolina. When Celeste father is grows ill, Celeste must move to Harlem to live with her aunt Valentina, the singer. One of my favorite parts of the book, the train ride to Harlem. Celeste talks to three people. I loved these conversation, they came across as very genuine. Celeste thinks she'll be living the high life in Harlem but her aunt lost her job. Her first night in Harlem just off the train Celeste must help her aunt clean a theatre floor. I liked Celeste a lot, she adapts quickly to her situations. Celeste was quiet and timid in Raleigh but she gains some confidence and learns how to speak up for herself in Harlem. Just when Celeste is getting used to living in Harlem she must move back to Raleigh to care for her aunt Society who had a stroke. Before Celeste leaves Harlem she plays her violin in a Harlem resturant, runs into Duke Ellington and James Weldon Johnson. Also Celeste's aunt Valentina gets a part in Shuffle Along, the first African American musical to go to Broadway Sometimes family is hard to figure out, Celeste aunts definitely fall under that category. As the book ends Celeste realizes that neither aunt is all good or bad, and to simply accept them for who they are. Tate has created a great character in Celeste Lassiter Massey. The author sites all historical references in the back of the book.
Time to share

My tears mingled with the rinse water. My back and knees throbbed. I'd scrubbed floors back home but not like this. Now I knew why Aunt Valentina walked bent over. I reckoned that I would, too, pretty soon. Just like in that book of fairy tales I loved to read at school, I felt like I was poor overworked Cinderella and Aunt Valentina was both mean stepsisters.

And if you're looking for a great young adult book about Harlem Renaissance check out

Harlem Stomp!: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance by Raban Carrick Hill . It was a National Book Award finalist.

1 comment:

susan said...

I'll be adding this to my wish list and tbr pile. Thanks for the review.