These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card is such an outstanding book. Despite the cute cover, it’s a dark book. The depictions of slavery and sexual violence stuck to me.
The book follows the life and death of Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death so he can begin a new one. We find out about his ancestors and descendants, all of whom have suffered because of slavery, migration and racism. Those forms of oppression are compounded for women.
There are so many incidents in the book that are memorable. Debbie, one of the slaveowner’s white descendants, finds her ancestor, Harold Fowler’s, diary and threw the pages in a river to literally get rid of the atrocities in it and drown him, the way he drowned his slaves. The incident that got me was when the slaveowner found Maddie, his slave, taking some honey from the jar. He punished her by pouring honey on her feet and having fire ants, rats and mosquitoes eat her flesh.
Slavery is living hell. How are human beings capable of devising such evil? How do people survive it?
Yet, we all are capable of it. In one of the later chapters, Abel Kincaid remembers hearing his mother maybe flushing his grandfather’s ashes down the toilet because he was a cheater and ruined so many people’s lives. Bernard, the yard boy who Vera raped and took advantage of his entire adult life, is the reason that three girls came to haunt Harold Town. It’s gutting the way men and women are capable of destroying another person through sexual violence.
I have such a wounded and depressing feeling after reading These Ghosts Are Family. But I am so glad Maisy Card wrote it.