AuthorHouse, 2003 - 300 sider
Noonday Flower is an engaging story of race, community and love. The importance of an education, for black and white, is emphasized throughout the novel.
The novel begins in 1937 and biographically covers the lifetime of the narrator, Maggie. Every chapter leads off with a poem that adds to the understanding of the story of Noonday Flower, a black baby born at noon in a small Michigan community.
The story begins with a young woman, Marla Jean, in the throws of childbirth. The story continues by first looking back to retell Marla Jean's short life in Idlewild, a black resort, then moving forward with the life of her daughter, Noonday, in a white community. Poverty and other circumstances contribute to Marla Jean's family's demise. After a year on her own in the magic of Idlewild's nightclubs, she is kidnapped and "kept" by an evil neighbor and his son. Marla Jean escapes to Walhalla where she gives birth.
Idlewild is detailed in the novel with true historical facts concerning its place of prominence in America's Black History. Readers will become engaged in Marla Jean's witness to the early Black performers documented here.
Walhalla, Idlewild's neighboring community, is central to the continuing story of the black child living in an all white community. Farming is the way of life in Walhalla where we meet many supporting characters some of whom support the noonday baby, and many who do not. The Walhallans are introduced; one of whom is Maggie, the schoolteacher. Maggie is a young married woman whose husband is away at war. (WWII) Noonday is denied attendance to the one-room school. The teacher befriends the young black child and secretly tutors her. Bookie Bob Brenner, Maggie's pupil and neighbor, meets Noonday and the three become allies living, learning, and loving throughout the plot. Conflicts arise with denials and death. The plot twists when Noonday attends college, the only black student in the community, and Bookie, the prize student of the community, does not.
Noonday attends graduate school in the East where she meets a professor who is a widower, and marries him. Bookie accepts his fate, farming and supporting his family along with the help of a young hired housekeeper whom he tries to love. Years pass. Noonday's husband dies.
Noonday returns to Walhalla as a highly educated 50s-year-old woman. Bookie, a self-educated farmer welcomes her back. Love is rekindled.
Once again, complications hinder the couple's "forever after". Noonday has commitments in Boston, a job, and a grown family. She leaves Bookie and Michigan once again.
Alone, Bookie Bob dies. He leaves a surprise legacy of learning in the upper rooms of his home. Aging Maggie, lifelong friend and teacher, is overwhelmed with his library and notes. The funeral of the most intelligent, self-educated farmer in the country takes place with few in attendance, few who knew the true essence of the man. The memoir ends with a moving scene between Noonday and Maggie.
Even though this novel is basically a love story it is prevalent for today's market because of its underlining themes. Education is the forefront of the news today. For all to be educated is vital in a responsible democracy. Unfortunately prejudice rears its ugly head even today, and complicates this issue. These issues are woven into this fictional novel that moves well and keeps the reader interested.