If the Creek Don't Rise Review
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At an early age, Rita ends up under the care of her Aunt Daisy, a hard-driven, embittered woman who wants Rita to do something with her life. But in cases like this, attitude means everything. Daisy slathers on the guilt thick and mean, never letting Rita forget the sacrifices she’d made to give Rita a chance at a better life. There seems to be no love in these sacrifices, and it almost leads to Rita’s ruin.

Ms. Williams tells of growing up in Strawberry Park, Colorado, in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, where her grandparents had fled from the lynching South. Lyndon Johnson had just signed into law the Civil Rights Act. You might expect this to be a bitter diatribe about how whites treated blacks—but that’s not what you’ll find here. Instead, you’ll experience life through the eyes of a poor, young African American girl who was more confused about the world around her than anything, and who just wanted to find her place in life—much like we all do, no matter the color of our skin.

Though you’ll strongly dislike Daisy at times, you won’t outright hate her. I believe she truly wanted Rita to get out and succeed, to do something more than just clean houses or churches or whatever in a white man’s world. Daisy worked long and hard, giving up any bit of happiness, so Rita might have some later. Daisy bore the scars of slavery, and though her actions and words were often too harsh, they were understandable to me, though they wouldn’t be to Rita until many years later. I do wish Daisy could have had a better outlook on life for Rita’s sake, if not her own, but some emotional wounds run deep and never heal properly.

If The Creek Don’t Rise is an engaging, honest, and heart-wrenching memoir about the struggles of growing up as a poor African American girl, trying to make sense of life, and hanging on tight to the rare glimpses of beauty this world does hold. I found myself relating to a whole lot in this novel—mainly because I know what it’s like to grow up poor and have to eat or drink something that gagged me just to look at it because a grownup abhorred letting things, especially food, go to waste. I laughed and cried and applauded Rita throughout the entire autobiography. It’s a truly wonderful story, made all the better by its raw honesty.

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