The Root Worker

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Penguin Books, 2002 - Fiction - 224 pages
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To Ellen, an eleven-year-old African American girl growing up in Detroit in the 1960s, the world is a threatening place. She describes, with a child's distinctive perspective, her fear of her Catholic school teachers and of her mother, who blames Ellen for her family's ills and is convinced that she is possessed by evil spirits. More than anything, Ellen fears the Root Worker, a voodoo priestess who has Ellen's mother under her sway and ruthlessly torments Ellen in an effort to find a "cure" for her wickedness. Rainelle Burton's unforgettable debut novel explores the poignancy and pain of working through a haunted past to arrive at a hopeful future.
"A haunted novelist digs out of a troubled past . . . the larger theme here, rendered in poignant detail, is the force that our minds possess for doing good, and evil." ("O, The Oprah Magazine")
"The names of a few special debuts will be whispered over fences and cause folks to creak their necks to hear better. The Root Worker deserves to be one such rumor, and I hope it's told far and wide."(Jennifer Hunt, "Chicago Tribune")

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A young African-American grows up under horrendous circumstances in 1960s Detroit.The time period is irrelevant, actually, since 11-year-old narrator Ellen, her family, and their neighbors seem ... Read full review


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