One Blood

Forge Sept. 2023. 432p. ISBN 9781250276193. $29. F
Director of the eponymous Caldecott- and Newberry-honored imprint and a New York Times best-selling author of mostly YA titles, Millner beautifully limns the experiences of a woman who must give up her child, a mother who has adopted, and Black women everywhere who must negotiate the roles of wife and mother while entertaining their own dreams, all circumscribed by racism. Raised in Virginia by a midwife grandmother who still embraces the old ways, Grace is sent north to New York City after tragedy to live with a snippy aunt who denies her roots and has insinuated herself into the city’s Black royalty. After bonding with a neighborhood boy who introduces her to the civil rights movement, Grace gets pregnant. Meanwhile, Lolo has fled her own tragedy for New York and has her own reasons to adopt. Thrumming with near-biblical cadence and enfolding a history of Black struggle, the narrative moves through Lolo’s own struggles with marriage and motherhood (and her realization that “a simple loving act connected her not only to this little girl but also to her own mother”), finally bringing the novel to her adult daughter, Rae.
VERDICT A bracing and important read with insights into adoption and motherhood, ending with the heartening words, “She wasn’t afraid. She was doing her best. She was free.”
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