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House of Rougeaux: A Novel. Jenny Jaeckel.

March 1, 2018

House of RougeauxHouse of Rougeaux: A Novel. Jenny Jaeckel.  Raincloud Press, 2018.

3 stars

A collection of warm stories about eight generations of a family of African descent as they move from the Caribbean to cities in Canada.

Jenny Jaeckel earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Evergreen college in Washington state and a M.A. in Hispanic Literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  She has written and illustrated several non-fiction books and worked at a variety of book-related jobs.  This is her first novel to be published.

The first, and earliest story, is about a slave family on the island of Martinique.  When a brother and a sister are left parentless, they turn to each other for survival.  The woman has special healing and prophetic powers which are passed down through the family.  Each generation has at least one person with these gifts, which can be a blessing or a source of unique pain.  A detailed family tree in the front of the book makes it easy to trace the time and place of each family member although the stories are not told in chronological order.

The different generations of the family all face pain and losses, but overall the book offers a sense of hope and survival. Becoming free does not end their troubles.  At times they redefine the meaning of family.  I was particularly touched by the story of the man whose wife dies after having born him six children.  In his despair, he finds love again, this time with a man as his partner.

I gladly recommend this book for readers who welcome another version of what it has meant to be black in North America.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 1, 2018 2:12 pm

    There seem to a few books with this kind of structure coming out now, following a similar structure first used by Yaa Gyasi in Homegoing. Creating a link with the past through what they inherit via their DNA affected by those early experiences.

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