Don’t Cry for Me

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Feb. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781335425737. $26.99. F
In his introduction to this epistolary novel, Black (They Tell Me of a Home) says, “More than anything, I want readers to reconsider the capacity of our fathers’ hearts,” and it is precisely such heartfelt reconsideration that he delivers. On his deathbed, 62-year-old Black father Jacob is writing a letter to his gay son, Isaac, whom he hasn’t seen in years. Jacob acknowledges the damage he did in not accepting Isaac and seeks to clarify how a tough pre-1960s Arkansas upbringing shaped his understanding of what was expected of him as a man and what he should expect of the world. It’s hard work for a man scraping by to support a family, and Jacob’s grandaddy thought that showing his family hardness was the right thing to do, just as Jacob thought that tearing apart the action figure Isaac kissed on Christmas morning was the right thing to do. But the world has changed, and as he expresses both love and sorrow Jacob is finally catching up. What results is the story of a complex father-son relationship and a man transformed, even at this late moment.
VERDICT A deeply perceptive evocation of what it has meant to be a man and especially a Black man in the United States, all the more affecting for not being shouted out but told with quiet, sturdy intimacy.
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