Rozelle Quinn is so fair~skinned that she can pass for white. Yet everyone in her small Georgia town knows. Rozelle’s ten children {by ten different daddies} are mostly light too. They sleep on the floor in her drafty, rickety three~room shack and live in fear of her moods and temper. But they are all vital to her. They occupy the only world she rules and controls. They multiply her power in an otherwise cruel and uncaring universe.

Rozelle favors her light~skinned kids, but insists that they all love and obey her unquestioningly. Tangy Mae, thirteen, is her brightest but darkest~complected child. Tangy wants desperately to continue her education. Shockingly, the highest court in the land has just ruled that Negroes may go to school with whites. Her mother, however, has other plans.

Rozelle wants her daughter to work, cleaning houses for whites, like she does, and accompany her to the “Farmhouse,” where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Tangy Mae, she’s decided, is of age.


Delores Phillips was born in Bartow County, Georgia in 1950. She graduated from Cleveland State University with a BA in English and works as a nurse at a state psychiatric hospital. Her work has appeared in Jean’s Journal, Black Times and The Crisis.

This is her first novel.


This book is quite possibly one of the most disturbing books I’ve read. And that’s why I gave it 4 stars. Any book that grab and twist my emotions is a winner. I wanted to stop reading it ~ the abuse scenes were cringe worthy. Not just the physical aspects, but the mental aspects… a part of me just kept asking myself if there are really kids who are living under these conditions and I know there are which made this story all the more compelling.

Tangy and her siblings are sympathetically written. They have hopes and dreams, the need to be loved… All of this despite everything that their mother did to them. I like that the end of the book was open ended, instead of wrapped in a neat little package. Phillips debut novel is definitely an emotional journey not for the faint of heart.

I would recommend this novel for book discussion groups because of the varied topics: race relations, child abuse, color issues within the black community, poverty and education. Just be prepared to put the book down and walk away for a few minutes.


Page 99

Our mother stood at that rickety, old table, kneading guilt that she would later bake and feed to us in bite~size pieces. And I was determined to swallow mine without gagging or choking, although guilt has a stringy texture, like strands of hair in a bowl of Cream of Wheat.

LEAST FAVORITE SENTENCE(S) (This is actually one of the saddest sentences)

Page 272

Night after night the men came, and the gentle ones were the worst, for they assumed they could coax life into a girl who died each night before they even touched her.