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Billy enjoys a series of adventures:visiting Coney Island with all its rides,and enchantment,enjoying the World's Fair of 1939,and looking on in wonder aat the domed capital building.
Billy Raymond, a black child living in the 1930s, discovers that all ethnicities are vulnerable in the coming-of-age novel set largely in New York City
In New York City, Young Billy learns that life is much different than in the segregated South he knows as home. The pace is faster, the people are more colorful, and he can sit anywhere he wants on the train. People aren’t as hurtful or disrespectful, either.
Chandler says, “This isn’t a novel about blame. Motherless Child gives the readers a unique introduction of the complexities of social issues in America as it struggles with its growth. Billy Raymond has other issues that he must deal with as well. America and Billy Raymond must deal with these difficulties and survive in a rational manner. You must read the book to determine if they succeed.”
During those early years in New York City when the subways were clean, the smell of hot brake shoes grinding trains to a stop at the stations filled my nostrils as a young child and rushed to my brain where it remains as an indelible impression of my youth. There were no variations. The scent was always the same as we walked pass the stations. First, a sudden gust of wind emanating from the great underground cavity, followed by the sound of the speeding trains, the squealing brakes, and the sweet odor of hot metal. I often wondered if the sensations were the same for the New York kids, as opposed to the country bumpkin I was supposed to be. But nothing could be the same for them. They were the smartest, sharpest, wisest, kids in the whole world. Then, there was Cousin Lucy who introduced me to the northern snobs as her "Little Cousin, he's from down South," followed the by sniffs and stares of the block-wise kids who spoke a different language. They said ‘ hi,’ instead of hello, ‘git’ rather than get, "Did you git ya this, or did'cha git ya that?” The ground was the floor, and the steps in front of buildings were called Stoops. They must have been right, after all they were New Yorkers...
iUniverse, Inc. (2007)
Reviewed by LuAnn Morgan for RebeccasReads (8/08)
Billy Raymond was born in the south, the second generation following the elimination of
slavery in the U.S. At the young age of four, he already recognizes the signs of
discrimination and segregation he and his family must face on a daily basis. Those
givens become clearer when he travels with his grandmother to New York when his
mother announces she is getting married.
Billy lives with his grandmother. His single mother felt unable to care for a child, so she
left him in capable hands as she traveled to make a life for herself outside of the Deep
South. Of course, now that she will no longer be a single mother, Billy’s grandmother
decides his mother should be ready to take on that responsibility. However, his new
stepfather has other ideas. He has no desire to raise his new wife’s son.
With that, Billy returns to Georgia and continues to live with his grandmother. Yet, he
never forgets the different lifestyle of those blacks up north. They have so many
advantages compared to those in the south. His goal is to someday return to New York
and be truly free.
“Motherless Child” is Billy’s story. We follow this character as he grows up and works
toward fulfilling his dreams. It’s a story that goes beyond the typical “coming of age”
novel. With an author who is familiar with life in Georgia during the mid-20th century,
we are introduced to concepts and beliefs few are privy to. The reader is taken on a
journey not to be forgotten. We learn about prejudice first-hand and develop an
understanding for the trials minorities faced on a daily basis.
Billy is not a character who is easy to like. He often comes off as brash and pompous.
Indeed, it is a piece of his personality that works as a self-defense mechanism to protect
his feelings and emotions from the “real world.” It is that world he must both escape
from and find as even his own mother turns her back on him. With that in mind, the
reader can come to appreciate Billy’s personality and the book itself. That’s what I found
as I began to read this story. It soon engrossed my time and became difficult to put down.
Cliff Chandler himself has lived in both New York and Georgia. He has an extensive
education in writing and that definitely shows as the reader experiences the vernacular of
each part of the country.
Particularly endearing is his descriptions of Billy and his grandmother on the train to and
from New York. It was a different experience in the 1930s, prior to desegregation and the
civil rights movement. Chandler has done his homework and presented the reader with a
believable novel about an unbelievable time in the history of our country.
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Reader Reviews for "Motherless Child"
|Reviewed by Mitzi Jackson
|Cliff this books sounds incredible, I hope to get a chance to fully redad it and give it my honest review. I wish you the best of luck in it and I love the title!|
|Reviewed by Cliff Chandler
|Billy Raymond is the most difficult character that I have ever created. This is truly a novel that required thirty-five years to create. Billy's character has changed several times. The problem was determining his posture, after which it was necessary to change the posture of the other characters to conform to the story. It has been a wonderful experience and the rewiews, regardless of age,or ethnic group, the readers respond to the novel in the same way. "This reminds me of the things that have happened to me growing up." This was my challenge; it is a positive novel about social change in America.|