Book – Rosa Guy, The Friends

 

I have been after Rosa Guy books for a few years. Now I figure that after my book clear out, if I’m going to own any books, it has to be these. Rosa Guy was my first favourite author when I got into reading books courtesy of the school library and I imagine was my introduction to reading, to writing and to New York. My life was thereafter clearly mapped out for me.

Having said that I didn’t start reading again until July 2008 because that’s when I started writing.

I finally get hold of this copy after a friend managed to secure it from my long standing Amazon birthday list and without any real hope of actually reading it, I take it on my Christmas holiday.

I say without any real hope.  as it was a short haul trip to Italy, less time at the airport and waiting for the plane to take off which is the only time I’d read a book on holiday, if that.

Instead, I pick it up on the last day, a day spent mostly waiting for or on trains to get back to Milan airport and then home. I read the whole book in a day, something I’ve always wanted to do. Now I accept that’s not exactly a challenge as it is a teen novel with 197 pages but still, ambition achieved.

I can’t say I recall any of the story from 30 odd years ago but I love reading it. Throughout I’m thinking what I would have thought reading about New York in the early 1970s and about a West Indian family trying to integrate themselves into a nation already filled with immigrants and yet not a million miles away from segregation.

Mostly, I’m thinking about friendship and about being an outsider as that’s what the book is about. A young West Indian family making a life for themselves in Manhattan for better or for worse. The story is told through the eyes of the younger of the two daughters, Phyllisia, an intelligent hard working student who is bullied for her efforts. Eventually Phyllisia accepts a hand of friendship from Edith, who is on the wrong side of the tracks but the only one that is on Phyllisia’s side.

The story entwines through both families but each time comes back to the friendship that is formed between these two school girls despite their differences and their similarities.

Next step, to find more Rosa Guy.

8½/10

Inspiration factor 10/10. It has to be.

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