Set in Georgia in the 1950s, Delores Phillips’s debut historical novel, The Darkest Child (2005), follows thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn, an intelligent African American girl, as she battles to finish her education in the face of a family tragedy, social upheaval, and her mother’s unthinkable abuse. 

The Darkest Child

Book Review: The Darkest Child

If Mommy Dearest and Flowers In The Attic had a black baby in segregated Parkersfield, Georgia in the late 1950s they would call her The Darkest Child. It is not for the faint of heart. It is dark and heavily laced with survival and hope. It’s heavy enough to make you think and spark conversation. It’s not paralyzing depression heavy, but close. It made me angry and sad. I cried and cussed out loud and shadow-boxed the air pretending it was Rozelle’s face. Just when you wonder how evil and low a mother could be, Rozelle, also referred to as Rosie, shows up to demonstrate yet another atrocity void of any hint of remorse. 

There’s a ton of drama but not overly done. There are surprise plot points all throughout from the beginning to a bittersweet end. I audibly gasped no less than 5 times and I don’t typically gasp. This is a very big story in a little book. The main character, Tangy Mae has 9 siblings and there are a lot of characters to keep up with, yet they are all uniquely and richly developed. Somehow the author weaves them throughout in a way that makes it work. They all have depth and are meaningful to the story. This could be a series of books or a TV miniseries with many spinoffs. Unfortunately, the author passed away before she could finish another book. 

The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips
Publisher Soho Press 
Publication Date January 1,2005
400 Pages.

About the Author

Delores Phillips

Delores Phillips (26 September 1950 – 7 June 2014) was an American author who is known for her acclaimed debut novel, The Darkest Child  (Soho Press, 2005). Born in Georgia, Phillips explores the racial dynamics of the 1950s rural South in her debut and only book. She graduated from Cleveland State University and worked as a nurse in a facility for abused women and children in Cleveland. Phillips was also a poet whose work appeared in Jean’s JournalBlack Times, and The Crisis. She died at the age of 63.

Mon Trice