This is the first year I have made a list of goals, posted them, shared them with y’all, and have actually kept myself to it. One of those goals was to read at least 1 book a month. I love reading but never make the time for it, so this is the year that I am making the time for it. Yay me!
My husband gave me the book titled “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom. He didn’t think too hard on it. He saw that it was a New York Times Bestseller so that make him feel better about his purchase, but he bought it because our last name is “Kitchen”. He’s deep and I love him for it!
I decided to make “The Kitchen House” my January book and I am so glad I did. It is a great book. It’s based around the nineteenth century in Virginia. It follows the story of Lavinia, an orphan from Ireland and Belle, the illegitimate black daughter of the plantation’s master. From the moment the story starts you are completely invested. I won’t spoil any of the story for you because I believe you should read this book. The author did a great job of making your heart break for the main characters and join their journey towards freedom. At times it was hard to read because I just wanted to scream and yell at all of the evil, wicked characters. Another thing I got from the book is that at all times we never know the “whole story”. When you read it you will understand, but I was left wondering why I didn’t know more about what happened with a certain character. At the end, it dawned on me that it was because I was reading it from Belle & Lavinia’s perspective… they wouldn’t know the details either. They were women, regardless of color, and women were not privy to details. The main thing I loved loved loved about this story was that all of those living in the Kitchen House were family. They didn’t care about color… they loved. They weren’t all genetically related, but they loved. It’s beautiful.
This book spoke to me. Being born and raised in Atlanta I have been surrounded by racial history my whole life. Fortunately for me, I had a family that treated people as human beings and not as a skin color or gender. For the longest time I had no clue what racism was. I was in high school when I had my first experience with racism. I couldn’t wrap my head around why I was being threatened because of my skin color. Then when I was 15 in downtown Atlanta, there was a gang that decided to attack any white person they found. I saw a man holding his two year child beat down to the ground when it all started. Frightened we began to disperse, but I was slammed up against a wall. I fell to the ground at that was the extent of it. It was enough for me to be done with downtown Atlanta. This was in the early 90’s. I remember my ride home that I was filled with an anger I had not known before. I didn’t want to go to school out of fear that because of my color I would be attacked again. Then something amazing happened. I began to think about all of my friends and those I cared for.
See, a lot of my friends were black. They were very dear to me and I looked forward to hanging out with them every day. They brought me joy and laughter. It was at that moment that I my heart went from anger at an entire race to anger at the individual who committed the crime. As awful as that night was, it shaped me to who I am today. It made me strong in who I was and was not willing to allow a group of idiot boys develop of hateful heart for a group of people that had absolutely nothing to do with the situation. I still don’t get racism because it comes from a place of ignorance and hate that I don’t know or understand. I do not look at people and judge them based off color of skin, gender, sexuality, political affiliation, religion, and whatever it is you can judge people. I get to know people for who they are and if they aren’t jerks, I am open and accepting.
I hated the circumstances for Lavinia and Belle in this story. I wanted so bad to make it right for them and at one point, Lavinia tries and is beaten pretty badly for it. Alice Walker writes on the front of the book, “I recommend The Kitchen House. This novel, like The Help does important work.” It really does. It opens up the dialogue of a past that happened and how as a country we have moved way forward. There will always be people with a wicked heart and believe that their race, gender, sexuality, etc is far superior to others. No book, law, movement, or anything will make them change. It will have to be on their own accord.
If you don’t mind being uncomfortable at times, read this book! If you can’t stand being uncomfortable, read this book. I loved it.