Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Gilded Years - Book Review

Anita Hemmings was a gifted, intelligent girl completely worthy of attending Vassar, the premier and elite girls college. It had been her dream since childhood and she had worked hard in school to pass her exams and gain entrance at the school. Only in the 1890's Vassar didn't accept African American students. With her fair skin, Anita's heritage as an African American was not as obvious and so she listed only her English and French heritage on her application.

Passing as white and being voted "the most beautiful", Anita excels at Vassar. With an incredible singing voice and a gift at the ancient languages, her professors and the other students value her friendship and opinion. In her senior year, she is picked to room with Lottie Taylor, the richest and most popular girl at the school. Anita and Lottie quickly become best friends and Lottie introduces her new friend to the splendor and glamour of the richest of New York.

Torn between the world Anita knows when she is white and her family and friends at home in Boston where she is known in the African American community, she struggles to find peace and love and an understanding of who she is and who she wants to be. Her secret is perilous and her ultimate goal of graduating from Vassar is in jeopardy.

In The Gilded Years, Karin Tanabe spins a fictional account of the first African American woman to graduate from Vassar. Tanabe is a wonderful writer who tells this compelling story and details in a very personal way the struggle that African Americans faced in their quest to be recognized as equal.

Though at times lengthy and a bit wordy, I was enraptured with Anita's story. While some details have been fictionalized, Tanabe pays homage to this brave and inspiring woman.

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe is published by Washington Square Press and releases on June 7, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Gilded Years. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**

1 comment:

Andi said...

Sounds absolutely fascinating! Thanks for a great review, Cindi!