Cover image for Daughter : a novel
Daughter : a novel
Bandele, Asha.
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Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, [2003]

Physical Description:
266 pages ; 23 cm
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The gifted author of the acclaimed memoir The Prisoner's Wife delivers a deeply penetrating work -- an emotionally shattering first novel that explores the perils of silence and illuminates the fragile complexity of the mother-daughter bond.On a winter night in Brooklyn, Aya Rivers, a vibrant nineteen-year-old black girl, is shot by a white police officer in a case of mistaken identity. Her mother, Miriam, a rigid and guarded woman, rushes to the hospital. As Miriam desperately waits at Aya's bedside, she falls back into memories of her own youth, when her life took a series of tragic turns as she struggled for independence and dealt with the end of her relationship with Aya's father. But as Miriam's recollections of love and regret descend upon her, this woman who has spent nearly every day of her life in an emotional prison finds that her wounds slowly give way to healing and a tentative hopefulness.With the lyrical economy of poetry, asha bandele tells a powerful story that boldly confronts timely and troubling issues. Daughter is an unforgettable portrait of one extraordinary woman and her journey -- from secrecy to openness, from the silence of isolation to the beauty of connection.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A black mother's rage and sorrow drive this passionate first novel about a beloved daughter shot dead by the police on the streets of Brooklyn. The story begins with smart college student Aya Rivers chafing at her controlling, secretive mother, Miriam. Out running one day, Aya is shot dead by a policeman. It's a case of mistaken identity. No one is accountable. Then the story switches to Miriam, alone, remembering her break from her cold, secretive home and her love for Aya's dad, Bird. Aya never knew him, never knew that he survived Vietnam only to be shot dead by the police in the war at home. Bandele, an editor for Essence magazine and author of the memoir The Prisoner's Wife (1999), writes about family grief and bitterness with searing immediacy. Woven into the mother-daughter story, Bird's life of hope and heartbreak is beautifully told, his dreams of college, family, and work destroyed even before his murder. The angry message is sometimes overwhelming, but this powerful story does what the author asks for: it breaks the silence. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Solemn and occasionally maudlin, this first novel by the author of the acclaimed memoir The Prisoner's Wife tells a tragic, too-familiar story: a promising young African-American is mistakenly shot by the police in Brooklyn, N.Y. Nineteen-year-old Aya has been getting her life together after a brush with the law and is working hard to earn a college degree. Only the coolness of her beautiful, distant single mother, Miriam, prevents her from being truly happy. When Aya is gravely wounded, Miriam is forced to face her own past and examine her emotionally arid life. Shifting focus rather clumsily, Bandele chronicles Miriam's strict upbringing and forbidden romance with sweet Bird, an ambitious janitor. Miriam loses Bird just before Aya is born, and when Aya is taken from her, too, she resorts to violence. Though she ends up in prison, she is finally able to tentatively connect with others again, meditating on a line by Aya's favorite poet, Sonia Sanchez: "I shall become a collector of me/ And put meat on my soul." Bandele tells her story in simple language, though plaintive asides ("have you ever told me a joke, Mommy, or kissed me just because?"), and italicized laments ("Oh God, didn't I pay with Bird?") give the novel a sentimental veneer. Bandele's low-key take on a grim aspect of the urban black experience stands in refreshing contrast to more sensationalistic renditions, but Miriam's muddled final epiphany will leave readers wishing for something more. Author tour. (Oct. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Miriam has always taken good care of her daughter, Aya. Despite Miriam's struggles as a single mother, her daughter (now a young woman) has never gone without. What's more, Aya has been reared to respect her elders, study hard, and be as self-contained as possible. Still, something is missing, and Aya cannot help but long for a mother she can talk to openly and freely. She resents the silences that form a chasm between them and wishes for a less staid and rule-driven existence. Miriam also wants a warmer, more expressive lifestyle but has no clue how to achieve it. Then the unthinkable happens: Aya is murdered by the police in a case of mistaken identity. Within a story that eerily replicates the Amadou Diallo shooting in New York, Miriam begins to imagine what might have been and reflects upon her own personal trajectory. Thanks to vivid flashbacks, the story that unfolds is searing, passionate, and intense. This urban coming-of-age tale grapples with difficult material, centering on the fragility of the mother-daughter bond. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.