Dark Sons has been given the Coretta Scott King Author Honor for 2006
This is a book that cuts me to the heart. It is told in verse, and goes back and forth between the stories of two young men struggling with relationships with their fathers. Ishmael is the first son of Abraham and Hagar of the Bible. He loses his special place with his father when Sarah bears Isaac, son of the promise. Sam, living in NYC in the 21st c., loses his special relationship with his father when his dad leaves his mother to marry another woman. Both of these young men struggle with feelings of abandonment, anger, sadness, confusion and longing. Both of them call out to the God of their fathers, seeking peace and finding a way.
The stories go deep for me because of my own son’s stories. My oldest son knows his father, and I have struggled all his life to forgive and find peace in supporting that relationship. For the most part it has worked and been good for him, but not without cost. My two little guys do not know a father, other than the God who promises to never leave us. Choosing to adopt them as a single woman, I have given them this. Maybe some would question the rightness of doing that. I can only say better one parent committed to raising them with God’s help than foster care. It is my constant prayer that God would give them a father’s love, although I don’t know how that will work without a human father living it out. Reading this book, and seeing these young men find their way and speak their truth has comforted me even through my tears and fears.
Nikki Grimes is a talented poet and writer. Her verse flows with grace and beauty. She speaks with a powerful voice to reveal the heart and strength of both of the boys, along with the growth and hope they achieve. This book gave me the shivers as it flowed quickly through my hands. I would recommend it to reluctant readers and young people who have experienced loss or hardship, as I think they would take to it and get a lot out of it. It would be a good one for anyone parenting a child as well, as it really shows how tender and open and eager a young person’s heart is, however they may appear on the surface.