Maurice Dorsey

Seymour reflects on three generations of his family history and often tells family stories to make sense of his years of emotional insecurity and feelings of being unloved and unwanted. His mother is Estelle. She is a strong African American woman whose mother died when she was ten years old. Her father forced her to be surrogate wife and mother to her younger sister and brother. When the Great Depression of the late 1920s occurred and wiped out the family’s finances, they were forced into a life of destitution. Never having enough money, she lived and dreamed of growing up and having a job and money of her own. Her dream of having a job was put on hold when she learns she is pregnant. She married and, within a year of the first child, she gives birth to a second child. She is angry with herself because she wanted to go to work before having children. Just as soon as she gets the first two children in grade school and she can live her dream of having a job, she learns she is pregnant again. This child is Seymour, and she repeatedly tells him in her disgust and frustration, “Child, God wanted you here, boy— because I never wanted to have you!” Seymour’s reaction to his mother’s persistent comments was to cling closer to his mother with hopes that, one day, shewould tell himshe loved him and wanted him. When he informs his mother that he is gay, this compounds her distaste for this child.

At the end of her life, Estelle reveals to Seymour her years of malcontent with her son, and he comes to terms with his mother and his family history. This book is fictitious but based on a true story. BOOK REVIEW by Dylan Ward (The US Review of Books) “Seymour was conflicted with Estelle. On one hand, she was the most generous person he knew; and on the other hand, she appeared unloving.” Seymour Rose is born to a strong and loving father, Albrecht, and a proud and confident mother, Estelle, in the final years of segregation. Estelle, forced into motherhood at a young age following her mother’s death, imposes her father’s strict upbringing and morals onto her own family. Albrecht is a calm balance to the headstrong Estelle as they manage their somewhat dysfunctional family. Their oldest son, Aries, is rebellious with bouts of violence, and daughter, Claudia, excels in school while welcoming the onset of womanhood. Seymour, the third child, is unlucky as he is the one who Estelle “never wanted to have.” Physical and sexual abuse is inflicted upon Seymour amid discrimination and strict Catholic indoctrinations coupled with his displays of “effeminate behaviors” and coming to terms with his sexuality.

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