In Rising, Darnella Fordís debut novel, Symone is eight years old dealing with life as she knows it. The center of her world is her mother, Dolores, whom Symone sees as a beautiful Nubian queen. But her mother is also an alcoholic, heroin-addicted prostitute. Symoneís father is unknown. Mother and daughter live in the projects in Dorchester, Massachusetts, where a telephone is a luxury, household pets are rats and sleeping on a urine-stained cot is the norm.
Symone narrates her story and describes the state of her life in detail. As a black girl with blond-streaked hair and bluish eyes, Symoneís bi-racial makeup leads to her share of racism. She explains her struggle with sexuality and her attraction to other girls. Many young girls would share such struggles with their mothers. Symone, instead, has to spend evenings tending to her mother, who is usually high, trembling from withdrawals or passed out.
When Dolores dies of an apparent overdose, Symone finds herself in a whole new world as she is quickly, almost mysteriously adopted by Ridge and Madeline Huston, a rich white couple with two daughters of their own. At first glance, it seems to be your modern day rag-to-riches story, but it isnít. Instead of being plucked from poverty and dropped into the lap of luxury, Symone discovers she is in hell on Earth.
The story quickly fast-forwards from Symone the child to Symone the woman. At twenty-seven, she owns an art gallery and she has two lovers, a woman (Natalie) and a man (Teek). After being dumped by Natalie, Symone tries to find solace in Teek. Yet strength is what she really needs as she goes back to the Huston home for a family meeting on Thanksgiving. It is this return to the house that brings out the demons that have haunted her for years. These are demons that even therapy could not eradicate. Her recollection of rape by her adopted father is vivid. Her remembrance of her sistersí muffled cries from the abuse they too endured is loud and clear.
The narration continues with horrific details, and the reader is forced to question Symoneís sanity. Seemingly on the edge, Symone devises a plan to settle the score. Will she have the courage to go through with it? Will her quest for revenge even work?
Rising is powerful yet poetic, gruesome yet gratifying. Like an artist, Ford creates vivid images and memorable characters. She creatively tackles a difficult subject matter with lyrical prose that is sure to set her apart from contemporary writers in this era. Her unique style may not be for everybody, but if you want a different type of read, pick up this book today. This is one author who is definitely on the rise.