“And the wind never will blow all life away, you just got to find a way to live in the wake of that wind. Cause it leaves a wake, full of trash flying around everywhere.”
There are few who can craft and create as J. California Cooper does. Her work should be savored while you learn a bit about life. Ms. Cooper’s story telling and writing evoke feelings and emotions that stir in me a sense of belonging, history, nostalgia and pride.
The Wake of the Wind transports me back to Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War. Lifee and Mor could very well be distant relatives, making a life for themselves when freedom finally arrives. My life with Lifee and Mor over the last several weeks, their family, feels like my family.
In this journey, I’ve been anxious and afraid. Alone and on the verge of giving up, but never forgetting how hope and endurance work together. I felt relief when Lifee and Mor left slavery and walked into freedom. But I was scared too because there were many people who didn’t want to see these black people getting too much. I cried when Mema was welcomed into the family because can a woman EVER hope for HAPPINESS after what she’d been through?
Lifee, always planning and thinking about securing a better future for her family, Mor and her children, the apple of her eye. Lifee, wife, seamstress, intelligent ; teaching others to read and write, encouraging the women in her life to use their minds. A woman who can take pride in her work, in her education, to save for the future.
As freedom doesn’t mean being treated fairly or as equals during this period in history, survival in freedom (and in life) requires shrewdness and insight. Lifee and Mor have that.
Hardship didn’t harden Lifee and Mor’s hearts. It kept them vigilant in their determination. Their freedom meant opening their hearts to others in need, in need of family, healing, and love. We watch this family grow and expand to help each other improve–to forge the path for the generations after them.
In less than 400 pages, I’ve had a lesson in history, family history. Mema and Ben, Abby and her girls, Mor and Lifee with their kids. This family is my family. As Aman and Able, twin boys, born to Mor and Lifee, soak in EVERY thing their parents instilled in them and I watch them grow. I’m so proud of my family.
The Wake of the Wind champions the fortitude of the human spirit, the heritage of black people in America and, celebrates love. What I loved about this book, it wasn’t the oversold many times told story of slavery and oppression. This is a story built on love, family, kindness, hope and endurance. Even in the face of hardships, this family continues to grow, in character and in love. They are cautious but don’t become like the people who envy them. They keep growing and striving to become better so they can help others do the same.
The family I reaped as the years pass and I before long, I know I’d have to say goodbye for at the end.
I am not sure I will ever be able to read Ms. Cooper without thinking of my beloved friend and BIG sister who introduced me to her work. Another one I’d love to discuss with her.