Mama Day

Gloria Naylor
Mama Day Cover

Mama Day


Mama Day follows the complicated love story of Cocoa and George, which is entertwined with Cocoa's birthplace - a barrier island where the inhabitants practice some degree of practical (and occasionally deadly) magic.

This is book is well-written and vividly constructed - I really feel like I experienced the events along with the characters. Naylor does some unusual and interesting things with perspective. Not only does the book frequently switch between first and third person, scenes with George and Cocoa are often told in the first person from both of their perspectives. The result is sometimes it can be a little hard to tell if things are being experienced by George or by Cocoa. However, instead of being confusing, I thought this really enhanced the narrative by representing the merging of Geroge and Cocoa's experiences. It also added a level of surrealism that enhanced the speculative feel of the book (which, otherwise, felt only lighlty speculative, as the references to magical practices are - probably intentionally - sometimes hard to distinguish from holistic medicine or natural phenomena.)

My only real complaint about the book is that I didn't like most of hte characters that much, particularly George and Cocoa. This isn't because they weren't realisitic or well-drawn - I believe they were. I think my issue was that their personalities and relationship felt so stereotypically heteronormative. George and Cocoa were constantly fighting, which was presented in the book as being a sign of their passion, but I found some of their fights a little tedious. I attribute some of this to the fact that the book was written in the 1980's, and occasionally some of the book's sensibiilties just felt a little outdated. However, this didn't diminish my overall appreciation for the book, and maybe wouldn't be noticeable to all readers.