This is a post in my 50 Nifty series, in which I’m reading through 50 books that embody each of the 50 United States. Find out why I’m doing this and which books I’m reading when (so you can read along) by checking out my first 50Nifty post, or else browse all 50Nifty posts by clicking here!
Daddy Was a Number Runner, Louise Meriwether
This novel, narrated by a 12-year-old black girl growing up in Harlem, was alternately heartbreaking and inspiring. In the midst of describing everyday events, Francie speaks innocently of being molested by shop owners and abused by her friends, but also about her family loving one another fiercely while trying to survive in Depression-Era New York City. Although this story takes place in 1934, especially poignant were the passages about police brutality toward blacks from Francie’s community, causing me to reflect on all that has happened in this country particularly in the last year, and lament that we’ve not made more progress in the last 80 years in some areas on that front.
I thought this was a great pick for the 50Nifty list, as Francie’s descriptions of her apartment and neighborhood provide such a vivid backdrop for the entire story. It was also interesting to see Depression-Era Harlem through the eyes of a girl who is slowly becoming more aware of the wide, wide world around her.