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Meant to Be

A Novel

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In a novel reminiscent of the work of Maya Angelou and Ntozake Shange, Rita Coburn Whack tells the story of how a young woman’s spiritual awakening leads her to maturity and self-fulfillment.

When Meant to Be opens, thirteen-year-old Patience Jan Campbell is called upon to read and interpret her favorite scripture for the church congregation: “I think this scripture means that children know every shut eye ain’t sleep and every head bowed ain’t praying, so grown-ups ain’t fooling us or God. . . . So nobody should hold a child back from God just ’cause they may be having trouble finding Him.”

But a traumatic experience causes Jan to stumble and lose her “voice.” Unable to turn to those around her, she calls for her grandmother Hannah—who died before Jan was born—in prayer. Unbeknownst to Jan, Hannah does come, and through her wise eyes we follow Jan into her early twenties as she moves to the big city, goes to college, and begins a career. A reflective father, a misunderstood mother, a sage aunt, and two pivotal lovers all build emotional bridges that help Jan progress on her journey to womanhood.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 07, 2002 – Ostensibly a memoir of Patience Jan Campbell's progress from 1960s girlhood to womanhood, this heartfelt novel also recounts a spiritual journey. Since Jan's childhood in a largely black Chicago suburb, her mentor has been an aunt whom she calls Mama Ada. Now sick with breast cancer, Ada declares, "Our spirits are not confined to these bodies" and urges Jan to reach out in prayer to the spirits of the dead for advice and comfort. The child, mystified by her parents' apparent lack of love for each other and by her own recurring dreams, calls to her grandmother, Hannah, whose "earth-time ended a half century ago." Hannah has "double-love" for this grandchild, and her omniscient voice takes over the narration of Jan's life story through college, the beginnings of her career as a radio disc jockey, and her relationship with two lovers: Don, an older sculptor (and ex-convict), and Phillip, sales director at the station where she's employed. Two strong women affect Jan's maturation: Sarah, a longtime friend whose motherhood and divorce serve as a lesson, and Raye, Jan's boss and role model. In an afterword called "A Conversation with the Author," Whack explains that several characters are based on her own "essence," and describes the novel's semi-autobiographical genesis. Solipsistic as it may be, the book makes a sincere attempt to integrate Christianity, black history and fiction, and Whack's considerable narrative ability and the color and vigor of her prose add up to a highly readable tale.
Meant to Be
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  • $8.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: African American
  • Published: Mar 12, 2002
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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