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«Read Regional 2020

Yvonne Battle-Felton: Remembered

Remembered is the story of a mother’s quest to keep her son safe. For most of Edward’s life, Spring has been living a lie. As an emancipated slave, if history and people have taught her anything, it’s that they weren’t interested in her story, her life. They only wanted her to confirm what they thought they already knew. Over time, she learned to quiet her own stories. In comforting others, she lost some of herself.

The novel opens in 1910 Philadelphia with the visit of Tempe, Spring’s dead sister. Tempe is the bearer of bad news. Her visits tend to mean one thing: death is coming. Spring is Tempe’s tether to the past as much as Tempe is Spring’s tether to the present. This time, Tempe has come for her son. Over 24 hours, Spring is forced to revisit her past through painful stories and newspaper clippings that seemingly haunt the present. The novel slips in time and place traveling through 24 years in America’s slaveholding past over 24 hours.

Remembered allowed me to reflect on the legacy of slavery and how I navigate that as a black woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a writer, a creative, and an academic. I wanted to write stories about enslaved people as individuals. I wanted my characters to want and find love, laughter, joy even within dark times. I wanted to explore how families might reconnect, and of course, how they might heal.

There are people who say we don’t need to write about slavery because it’s in the past. There will always be people who don’t want to hear difficult stories. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people still carrying painful stories and it sure doesn’t mean we aren’t affected by them.

Remembered is a story about slavery and the emancipation, oppression and stereotypes, violence and racism. It is also a story about family, mothering, love, community, and the power of story.

Questions for Readers

What might happen after the novel closes? How might Spring use stories as advocacy?

What might the newspaper clippings suggest about the relationship between reported news and remembered stories?

Edward is silent for much of the novel. What do you learn about him throughout the novel?

Recommended Reading

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Roots by Alex Haley
Family by J California Cooper
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Yvonne is an American writer living in the UK. A writer of fiction and Creative Nonfiction, her writing has been published in literary journals and anthologies. Remembered was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Winner of a Northern Writers’ Award in fiction (2017), Yvonne was shortlisted for the Words and Women Competition (2017), the Sunderland University Waterstones SunStory Award in 2018, and awarded a Society of Author’s Foundation Grant for Remembered in 2018. Yvonne has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and is Lecturer in Creative Writing and Creative Industries at Sheffield Hallam University.

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