“Gather at the Table is a book for all of us”

Posted January 13th, 2013 by

“I had to close this book frequently due to an eerie unease and a desire to deny. I stomped into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and later stomped back for tea. But the book is just as intriguing and captivating as it is unsettling, so I headed back into the pages until I had devoured every one.”

I have a set of “Google Alerts” that notify me when items are posted that include various iterations of my name, my book titles, groups I belong to, and various subjects in which I’m interested. Two days ago I received notice that a review of Gather at the Table had been posted. Sharon and I have been gratified and humbled by the strong and positive reviews our book has received on Amazon, GoodReads, and elsewhere.

But this was something else.

When I clicked on the blog “VERMILYANOTES” with its tag line “I’m curious in a raw world with endless hope” and began to read, I encountered the most thorough review I’ve seen to date from someone who understands what Sharon and I hoped our readers would encounter as they engaged with the stories of our journey.

“Even generations after the ships carrying human cargo, the treatment of humans as chattel, and the fortunes made and lost with the labor of workers from Africa, Americans are living on this foundation. Our country was founded upon slave shoulders and land stolen from Native Peoples. The labor and love of generations born of many drops of blood from many cultures has built the infrastructure of this country. But slavery happened so long ago that many have wondered why it still matters. It matters because we haven’t understood the consequences, the ever-present privileges assumed or denied; the constant and present reiterations of denigration and denied access. And who wants to?  Who wants to allow all the truth of this legacy in?

“The history of slavery in the United States isn’t pretty. It isn’t heroic and it doesn’t fit the myth of the individual pulling up bootstraps to success, or that hard work and perseverance will get you the gold ring. Slavery proves the lie of every single slogan.”

I wrote to the author, Shelley Vermilya, and we’ve written back and forth a few times since yesterday. Shelley received the book as a Christmas gift from someone who found it on display at the front desk of Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine. I am grateful to Longfellow Books for stocking Gather at the Table, and to Shelley Vermilya for “getting” our book and giving me permission to share them here.

I encourage our friends and readers to not only read Shelley’s review in full here, but to share it with your friends and networks. Thank you.

“We need to know that facing the truths will allow us to understand the fuller picture of our history. Without all the pieces of this puzzle that is us (U.S.), we are held back, kept in a perpetual, peevish childhood of ignorance. We have to go right through the pain, know it, accept it, and integrate it. Only then the wounds can mend and we can all grow into mature Americans together.”

3 responses to ““Gather at the Table is a book for all of us””

  1. Longfellow Books is an excellent store with discerning and thoughtful owners and customers. Kudos to them. Come to Maine!

  2. Susan Hutchison says:

    Boy does he get it! How gratifying that must be for you both!

  3. The book is wonderful. Thank you.

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