‘Wash’ by Margaret Wrinkle
Like Jake is to Glamour, we thought it would be fun to have our male book friend, Clifford Lamson, read a book we doubted any of the men in our life would gravitate to on their own. Normally, Clifford can be found reading his way through the Game of Thrones series. But for now, read on for his thoughts on Margaret Wrinkle’s Wake.
When I picked up Wash, I had admittedly different expectations of what the book would be about. Set in the early 19th century, Wash follows the life of Washington—a slave whose identity is caught between two worlds: Africa, the land of his ancestry, and the slave wrought South. A hard worker but head strong and stubborn, his owner decides that instead of having Wash work the fields or in the stables—where he becomes a liability—he will instead stud him out to nearby plantations for profit. Along the way, Wash finds a girl who is supposedly different from the rest, and who helps him come to terms with his past and present.
I was honestly expecting this book to turn into a mushy love story: Washington, the big buff dude going from plantation to plantation, womanizing all the way—only to be tamed by someone who knew who he really was inside. I braced myself, only to be pleasantly surprised by how far my assumption had been from the truth. Wash steers clear of the steamy sex scenes and mushy love plots to point out the more realistic and harsh reality of the lives and relationships slaves led with each other. While the book does feature this harsh world, it is far from the focal point of the novel. Wash is more about the connected lives of a few people. Told through several different perspectives, masters, slaves, and children all tell their stories and reveal aspects of their lives as we follow them through Wash’s story.
Wash has an interesting plot, complex characters, and is written wonderfully. There is also a heavy emphasis on the religious practices of migrant African slaves, which added an interesting spiritual dimension to the story. It does, however, have a lot of backstory and it can get depressing, which slowed me down a little at the beginning. It starts in the middle of Wash’s life, then flashes back to before he was born to introduce his mother’s life and his childhood. All being said, this was an interesting and satisfying book to read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a heavy novel to read this summer.
Clifford Lamson is from Chevy Chase, Maryland and is a rising senior philosophy major at Davidson College. When he’s not studying or reading books, he enjoys playing rugby and socializing with friends.
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