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I Leave You My Dreams by Bernadene High Coleman

Reviewed by: April Chase
Publisher: Coleman and Coleman.
Publication: 2001
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 stars

Cora Hightower would do anything to give her five beautiful daughters a better life. Understanding the advantages a strong upbringing and a good education can bring, she realizes the poverty and repressive atmosphere of the rural South is no place for her family. So she boldly moves them all lock, stock -and piano, which she ships by train – to Los Angeles, California.

“I Leave You My Dreams,” Bernadene High Coleman’s second novel, details Cora Hightower’s move, and the exciting results. World War II rages overseas, so her husband, Webb, is able to find work in the booming defense factories. Cora finds work, too, cooking for construction crews, and the family enters an era of prosperity like they have never known. They are even able to buy a small house! But there are difficulties. Although there is less prejudice than in their small Southern hometown, it is still a tough world for black families, and her daughters are not used to big city life. Likewise, they find the schools to be challenging – far ahead of the schools back home.

Cora’s strict code of behavior, with rules for everything from housecleaning to daily speech, is not always easy to follow, either, but her obvious love for them keeps the girls in line, and they prosper under her guidance. They even learn to play the piano she so painstakingly had shipped across the country. “That piano was a symbol of pride. It was a status symbol Cora had worked hard to gain. To her, a piano was evidence they had achieved something, ” writes Coleman. She movingly portrays the struggles and triumphs of this tight-knit clan.Although this book deals with an African-American family, Coleman’s spare, easy-reading prose details the kind of challenges that all of us, black or white, can relate to, from alcoholism, marital problems, and the difficulties of coming of age, to the deep friendships that can develop when prejudices are forgotten. The moving ending to this saga will not be soon forgotten. This is Coleman’s second self-published novel – look for more great reading from this promising author.

To purchase this book: I Leave You My Dreams

Copyright 2003. April Chase.

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