Every once in a while a book crosses my desk that insults the fabric of my soul, fills me with revulsion, and leaves me needing blood pressure medication. It is my opinion that the book ‘Slave And Sister: Negotiating A Civil Relationship In Spite Of War’, by Sabra Waldfogel, is one such book.
The brutal reality of the world just over a hundred years ago, is driven home with objective adjectives, nasty nouns and adversarial adverbs. Waldfogel does not waffle with etiquette, nor are her words the watery wishes of make believe. The atrocities lacing the pages of Slave and Sister are not fictional, however, to whom they were applied is. On a personal note, my great-great grandfather was a freed black slave, so I was offended to the very core of my being as Waldfogel’s words slugged me in the face with honesty and reality.
Slave and Sister is a carefully crafted cavern through time, lined with views of historic horrors and brutality that lash and thrash the reader’s emotions. Slave and Sister is not a book for the faint of heart. Reading it is a lot like riding a roller coaster equipped with seats that shock the living crap out of you at every hill and turn. Waldfogel’s wizardry with words makes it impossible not to be devastatingly impacted by her work, as she uses history like a psychological ice pick to ‘drive her point home’.
Books have been ripped out of libraries and schools for much less offensive racist content than Slave and Sister’s. Where Mark Twain was tame, Waldfogel is downright twisted. I enjoyed the ungilded glimpse into the lives of those whom privilege corrupts, and those whom it deprives. I cannot stress enough that this book WILL invoke very intense emotions. It is a literary tapestry of shame and honor, of glory and defeat, and of coming to terms with the most important issues in life. Its fabric is embroidered with hope and hatred, possibility and chains, war and peace, and pain giving birth to elation.
Reading Waldfogel’s Slave And Sister is best likened to watching historic racism in 3D. Regardless of your race, when you read this book, your heart WILL react. Again, if you are ‘socially sensitive’, or, are easily upset by reality, DO NOT read this book!!! On the other hand, if you can take a punch like George Foreman, have a stomach of steel, veins of Kevlar, and after all these decades physicians are still searching for your heart, Slave and Sister: Negotiating A Civil Relationship In Spite Of War is the perfect way to bring blood pressure to the point that it’ll blow heavy duty hydraulic hoses.
Awesome book. Awesome writer.
About The Author
Sabra Waldfogel grew up far from the South in Minneapolis. She studied history at Harvard University and received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Minnesota. Sabra has worked as a technical writer, and has written about historic architecture for ‘Old House Journal’, and ‘Arts and Crafts Homes’. Her short story, ‘Yemaya’, was recently published in ‘Sixfold’s’ fiction issue. Slave and Sister is her first novel.