Peace Like a River in His Soul | Book Review of Perfect Peace by Daniel Black
Title: Perfect Peace
Author: Daniel Black
Hi friends. I'm back with another hot take on the latest books I've read. I've been on a black literature kick lately, (I love this for me) and I've been trying to make it a point to read at least two books per month about black people, written by black people.
There are so many unique stories out there that are told by people who look like me. It seems only right that as an aspiring author of color, I take a look at the black literature that already exists. With that being said, I've been hearing people mention the author Daniel Black over and over again. Especially in spaces with black readers. I saw his book Perfect Peace mentioned on multiple occasions. I figured what better time to read it than now?
PS. Take a shot for how many times I've said "black" since the beginning of this post. Hopefully you can still see when you're done.
I went into this story completely blind, didn't want anything to influence my opinion of the book before I started, and WHEW let me tell you. This was one of the heaviest books I've read in a long time. I had to take frequent breaks and I think I yelled Oh my God! at least a dozen times per chapter. Daniel Black definitely knows how to tell a story; I can't wait to read more of his work. in the meantime, let's take a look at Perfect Peace.
When the seventh child of the Peace family, named Perfect, turns eight, her mother Emma Jean tells her bewildered daughter, “You was born a boy. I made you a girl. But that ain’t what you was supposed to be. So, from now on, you gon’ be a boy. It’ll be a little strange at first, but you’ll get used to it, and this’ll be over after while.”
From this point forward, Perfect’s life becomes a bizarre kaleidoscope of events—while the rest of his family is forced to question everything, they thought they knew about gender, sexuality, unconditional love, and fulfillment.
That's a wild synopsis, right? I know! I was shook reading the entire book. It was so hard to absorb, but it was so beautifully written I absolutely couldn't turn away. I had to give myself a break or two in between so I didn't get bogged down with the amount of trauma and sadness in this story. To know that trauma of this magnitude is everyday reality for so many people is heartbreaking. I wish love and light to anyone reading this who many have experienced severe (or even not severe) pain at the hands of someone that was supposed to love you.
But anyway, back to the book.
Every now and then I read a story that makes me wish I had the power to reach into the book and punch some of the characters in the throat. This was definitely one of those stories. Even though I was listening on audiobook, I wanted to reach in and grab a few of them around the head. Like Mae Helen for example. I know her behavior probably stemmed from her own life of abuse and pain, because it's always a cycle but OMG. She was a horrible person. Absolutely horrible the way she treated her daughter.
The way the different backgrounds were woven into the main story, giving us a glimpse of why certain people acted the way they did was a nice touch. To be quite honest, I usually avoid stories like this because of the sheer magnitude of pain and close-minded thinking that plagued the older black generations, but I am glad I picked up this book.
It forces you to reexamine what you thought you knew when it comes to gender norms and expectations. I consider myself to be an open-minded person, but it even had me reconsidering some concepts. I appreciate a book that can impact the way I view things. Teach me something new while telling me a story and you have me hooked. Easily.
I encourage everyone to read this book and let it challenge what you thought you knew about gender, sexuality, and societal norms. When you're done, come find me and we can talk about it together. This is definitely the catalyst of some deep and most likely uncomfortable conversations.
Happy Reading Babes! ❤