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A Matter of Souls
Cover of A Matter of Souls
A Matter of Souls
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From the shores of Africa to the bowels of a transatlantic ship to a voting booth in Mississippi to the jungles of Vietnam, all human connection is a matter of souls.

In this stirring collection of short stories, Denise Lewis Patrick considers the souls of black men and women across centuries and continents. In each, she takes the measure of their dignity, describes their dreams, and catalogs their fears.

Brutality, beauty, laughter, rage, and love all take their turns in each story, but the final impression is of indomitable, luminous, and connected souls.

From the shores of Africa to the bowels of a transatlantic ship to a voting booth in Mississippi to the jungles of Vietnam, all human connection is a matter of souls.

In this stirring collection of short stories, Denise Lewis Patrick considers the souls of black men and women across centuries and continents. In each, she takes the measure of their dignity, describes their dreams, and catalogs their fears.

Brutality, beauty, laughter, rage, and love all take their turns in each story, but the final impression is of indomitable, luminous, and connected souls.

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  • OverDrive Read
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    always available
  • Library copies:
    always available
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.5
  • Lexile:
    810
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Denise Lewis Patrick grew up in Louisiana and now lives in New Jersey. She has been both a writer and editor in various areas of the publishing industry. Visit her online at www.deniselewispatrick.com.

Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2014

    Gr 7 Up-This collection of short stories examines the African American experience from the years just after the Civil War through the Civil Rights era. There are several stories in this slim volume that are excellent additions to the body of historical fiction focusing on the Black American experience and would be especially welcome for helping to drive interdisciplinary study in upper grades. All of the work is threaded through with spirituality and romance as part of the everyday experience of people, helping to personalize and humanize stories of violence horrific and mundane. However, the selections are uneven in quality, the first four standing out as strong literary pieces and the remaining four offering diminishing returns until the final story, the only one not told from a black perspective, which ends the collection on a maudlin note. This would be a great book to introduce to a teacher to diversify classroom reading, but because it does not hang together as a cohesive whole, it would be less of a resource for students on the open shelves.-L. Lee Butler, Stoughton High School, MA

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    February 1, 2014
    Grades 7-10 In this collection, Patrick has written eight stories about the African American experience, past and present. All deal, in various ways, with the often violent indignities that blacks have suffered at the hands of whites since the days of slavery. Indeed, one of the stories, A Matter of Souls, tells of the life-changing encounter of a Spanish grandee with a slave ship. A more contemporary story, Night Searching, tells the tragic story of a mother who finds her son beaten to death. The most ambitious story in the collection, Son's Story, begins when a 10-year-old boy witnesses his father being murdered for attempting to vote. Not all the stories are dark; The Season to Be Jolly, for example, presents a portrait of a young slave who, thanks to her courage and gumption, manages to outwit her acidulous mistress. The stories are not uniformly successfulseveral are slight and a few veer dangerously close to melodramabut as a whole, the collection is compelling and thought provoking.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • The Horn Book Magazine

    "This debut collection presents eight stories in which the protagonists have a moment to decide how they want to live their lives and establish the moral direction of their existence. Seven draw on the black experience in America, taking readers into the Deep South from the days of slavery through the Civil War and Jim Crow laws. The titular (and least effective) story introduces a Spanish merchant who acknowledges his part in the African slave trade. While the prose in these compelling narratives is sometimes pedestrian, the complexity of each moment marks its power. Here readers meet Covington and Beesi, a man and his wife who, despite attacks and threats from the KKK, attempt to continue the legally inherited cobbler's business left to Covie by his white father. A hundred years later, as Elise's brother fights for his country in Vietnam, she must invade a doctor's 'Whites Only' waiting room to save her mother from dying. In another story, sixteen-year-old Hazel sees her future as one defined by white society. A domestic worker, Hazel uses bleaching cream to lighten her skin and follows the patronizing advice of her white employer about her grammar and her friends; her older sister searches for a different future by engaging in prostitution. But aren't they both selling themselves in one way or another? Patrick leaves many such questions unasked, but the themes are there for the taking." —The Horn Book Magazine

Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Lerner Publishing Group
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