Journey of a Cotton Blossom, by J. C. Villegas ISBN 9781612548838
Three out of five stars
There is a tight, engaging story in this book. Unfortunately, it is embedded in wrappings of repetition and wordiness far beyond what is needed to make the points. The story opens in Mississippi in the 1940’s, when slavery is still the de facto social structure. The Klan is powerful, terrorizing blacks and whites that are not sufficiently pro-segregation.
Joseph is the child of a black mother and her white master, the result of a brutal rape while she was in her early teens. Rather than have his wife constantly being reminded of his deed by the presence of Joseph’s mother, she is sold off and Joseph is raised by the master and his wife. This is a relationship of financial support only, the only person that shows Joseph any love and affection is an elderly black woman.
The story progresses through the years as Joseph grows up and becomes involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He then gets married and has a son named Isaiah and the story follows the life of Isaiah until he reaches adulthood. Isaiah is a boy with severe problems fitting into society, even more than the usual mixed race child.
While there some historical accuracy in terms of how the Civil Right Movement was resisted by whites, the telling of the story rapidly grows tedious and repetitive. Even though the changes taking place were momentous, most of the ink is consumed dealing with personal thoughts, feelings and internal turmoil rather than the events that were dramatically altering the society of the Deep South. This would have been a much better book if there had been more coverage of the bigger picture and less time engaged in personal torment.