Redemption Song by Bertice Berry: Food for the Soul

After an adventurous search, I finally bought and sat down to read the novel Redemption Song by Bertice Berry. In Redemption Song, Josephine and Ross locate a slave woman’s journal in a local bookstore. Part family history and part love story, the journal parallels these two characters’ lives in many ways. Although I enjoyed the story, it is the mother wit and sage advice sprinkled throughout Redemption Song that has stayed with me. Here are some of my favorite passages from the book:

  1. “The trick to getting what you want in life is all about balance. You have to first understand the difference between needs and wants. You have to work on what you need, and balance your life so that when you get what you want, you don’t go making another list of needs.” Pg. 49
  2. “The most radical thing that he or any other black man could do was to love a black woman . . . .” pgs. 55-56.
  3. “Most people go through their entire life working day in and day out, completely happy in the simplicity of paying bills. The idea that they are here for something greater barely crosses their minds. On the rare occasion when these people allow themselves to dream and imagine what their lives could really be like if they took a risk, there is usually someone there to remind them that dreams don’t come true. These people never find their purpose, their calling. These are the folks whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren are burdened with the unfulfilled longings of their ancestors . . . [T]hat ‘vicious cycle’ [authors often debate about is] just a fancy way of saying ‘generational curse.’” Pg. 66.
  4. “Ross thought of all the women he knew who’d been raped or molested. For a while it seemed like an epidemic. Every other woman he came in contact with held that secret baggage; but the bags hadn’t been packed by some slave master or someone of a different color, it was usually a relative, close family friend, or sometimes, it was a boyfriend or husband. Ross was beginning to understand the personal pain that black women carried. They were still nursing the scars of ancestors who’d never known safety.” Pg. 84.
  5. “When we make the choice to live within the purpose that we were designed for, we collect fewer things. But we admire many more.” Pg. 96

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