The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor
Published by Hanover Square Press ISBN9781335449375
Hardcover, $28.99, 298 pages
Goldie Taylor's coming-of-age compelling memoir The Love You Save shares Goldie's story growing up in a tough East St. Louis neighborhood in the 1970s. After Goldie's father was murdered and her brother beaten and robbed, her grieving mother took Goldie and her two older siblings from their home near family in a mostly Black East St. Louis community to a mostly white St. Ann.
Her mom worked long hours at a hotel, and Goldie and her siblings were left alone for long periods of time. When she was eleven years old, Goldie was raped by a neighborhood boy and found little comfort from her mother.
She was sent to live with her Auntie Gerald and Uncle Ross back in East St. Louis. Gerald and Ross' home was filled with all kinds of relatives, many of them younger. The younger children had to scrounge for space to sleep on the floor and food to eat before it was all gone.
Auntie Gerald was a deeply religious woman who kept a clean household, but she had a temper that she frequently took out on Goldie. Ross was kind to all the children, he gave them the love many of them didn't get from their own parents. They did their best to keep everyone on a good path in trying circumstances.
Goldie's saving grace became the gifted classes she was put into at her middle school. The school was falling apart and at times violent, but a few of her teachers took Goldie under their wing and believed that she had a special talent, especially in the area of speech, for which she won many awards.
While the rest of her life was chaotic and sometimes dangerous, Goldie shined in her classes. She taught herself math from her older sister's books, and her refuge was the many books she borrowed (and appropriated) from the library, Jane Austen a favorite.
Eventually Goldie became entranced by James Baldwin. His writings spoke deeply to her, and she hungered to learn about him and others like Toni Morrison and Martin Luther King Jr.
Taylor's writing is striking and she pulls the reader in from page one with her vivid portraits of Auntie Gerald and Uncle Ross. She makes the city of East St. Louis come alive on the page, and shares its history of how Blacks moved there from the deep South for work in factories and the white flight that followed that. The scourge of crack cocaine in the 1980s left many families and neighborhoods broken.
Goldie Taylor shows us the resiliency of the human spirit, and how education can be a lifeline for those who reach for it. Readers of such books as Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House, Jesmyn Ward's Men We Reaped and Tara Westover's Educated should put The Love You Save at the top of the TBR list. I read it in one sitting and found it incredibly moving. It makes a great book for Black History Month.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Goldie Taylor's tour.