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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism



My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new... Continue »
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Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
Leaving Atlanta

msfresh16, May 28, 2008

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones takes place in the early eighties when many African American children had come up missing or dead in Atlanta, Georgia. This novel is broken down into three different sections. Each section is told by three different children, LaTasha, Rodney, and Octavia, who are all living in the area where this atrocity is happening.
In part one titled “Magic Words”, LaTasha Baxter has to deal with many frustrating things in here life. First, she gets upset when the “popular” girl Monica doesn’t really want to be here friend. Then she later finds out that her dad is moving out because he is separating from here mother. Because of this she goes on a mini strike by not eating. Shortly after, a few kids come up missing. Her mother demands that she come right home after school and hold her little sister DeShaun’s had the whole way. DeShaun of course gets very frightened by this and clings to either her sister or her mother. Tasha soon develops a little relationship with this boy Jashante in her class. This gives Monica another reason to pick on her because he is from the projects. One day Tasha saw his face on the TV. He was missing too. Shortly after that her father returns home to make sure the family remains safe.
In part two called “The Direction Opposite of Home”, Rodney Green seems to be a victim of abuse by his father. He isn’t fed very well, he is forced to do whatever his father asks of him, and his father even goes as far as coming to school and beating him in class. Where he spends a lot of his time though, is in the candy store. The lady who works there knows him very well since he is a regular customer, even though he rarely purchases things. Instead he steals most of the candy. When his family hears of Jashante and others missing, they too make him hold close to his little sister on their way home from school. In the very end of this part Rodney ends up getting snatched by a man who was pretending to be a police officer.
In part three entitled “Sweet Pea”, Octavia Harrison tells her side of things during this time. In school she gets picked on the most because she looks a little different and she is poor. Her skin is very dark, her hair is nappy, and some say she even stinks a little bit. One of her best friend though is Mrs. Grier a second grade teacher. She helps her get clean in the morning, does her hair, and even gives her food sometimes. What Octavia hates the most is that her mother is such a bad liar. She thinks that it helps her in life to make everything seem like its ok. Her Uncle Kenny used to live with them, but he got in trouble for watching her take baths and using needles, so her mother kicked him out. After all of the killings occur, Octavia’s mother ships her to go live her father in Macon, Georgia.
I think the killings in the book are supposed to represent a sort of theme of moving on in our lives. It uses a sort of scare tactict to teach people to be more aware of things in life. This is because when bad things happen, sometimes it's best to just pack up and leave. From this I took away many good points. To me it sort of freaked me out since I am going to be moving to Georgia, near Atlanta actually. It kind of teaches me to be more careful and really opened my eyes to the fact that I will be on my own soon. I think this is a really good book and I definatly recommend it to any one who wants to see what it’s like to be living in this time and who isn’t scared of the truth. Sometimes, moving is the answer.
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