From his birth to his mother Emma Mae’s eventual decline, Willie John’s adventures growing up during the major cultural upheaval taking place from the early 1940s to the 2000s shine a light on the injustice and inequality that were found all over America as well as the lighter side of coming of age during an amazing period in the nation’s history. A charming narrator, Willie John invites readers to share in his life and his experiences, as well as those of his beloved mother.
In 1942, young Emma Mae gave birth to her first child, a little boy she named Willie John. The birth was difficult, but the boy thrived, and as he grew, he began to understand more about his mother’s strength and determination; this strength led Emma Mae to take her young son and leave her tumultuous marriage and the increasingly unpleasant atmosphere created by the South’s strict Jim Crow laws for a fresh start in Brooklyn, New York.
As the years pass by, Willie John grows into manhood and becomes more independent from his mother, but he never forgets the sacrifices and hardships his mother underwent to help him achieve as much as he could. Though the two didn’t always see eye to eye, they always loved one another. When Willie John’s early first marriage fell apart, Emma Mae disapproved, but eventually came to accept his new relationship. As he set himself the goal of working for IBM in their infancy, his mother was his greatest cheerleader, and as proud as a peacock when he was successful. When, many years later, Emma Mae was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Willie John felt as though the earth was shifting underneath him; could he cope with the weakness of the cornerstone of his life?
Mama, Me & ‘Em is by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, sharing the ups and downs of a young African-American man and his family through the latter half of the twentieth century in America. Willie John is an endearing narrator, fully aware of his own shortcomings and eager to sing the praises of his beloved mother without hiding her imperfect humanity. Readers will be sorry to see the end of Willie John and his witty observations about an everyday life that was anything but ordinary.
For additional information, please visit mamameandem.com.
Mama, Me & ‘Em
ISBN: 978-1-4575-0654-3 827 pages $39.99 US
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