The Root Worker by Rainelle Burton

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A remarkable debut novel than limns the shadowy landscape between innocence and experience, The Root Worker is the riveting story of Ellen, an eleven-year-old african-american girl growing up in Detroit in the 1960s. As described in Ellen's own voice, the world is a threatening place. She is afraid of her teachers, nuns at the Catholic school she attends who instill in her a fear of punishment for sins she doesn't understand. She is afraid of her mother, who holds her responsible for her family's ills and is convinced that Ellen is possessed by evil spirits. But more than anything, she fears the Root Worker, a voodoo priestess who has Ellen's mother under her sway, who feeds her fears and insecurities, and ruthlessly torments Ellen in an effort to find a "cure" for her wickedness.
,br>Through all of these experiences, Ellen is in a constant search for "glue"-a place of safety, where no one can touch her. She finds a way there when she meets Barbara, a neighbor who tries to restore her trust in people. It will take a great deal, however, for Ellen to wrest herself from the people who have power over her. A novel in the tradition of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and Alice Walker's The Color Purple, The Root Worker marks the introduction of a sparkling new literary talent. It is a gracefully written and unforgettable novel.

About Rainelle Burton

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Rainelle Burton studied at Wayne State University. She has organized creative writing projects for public schools in Ohio and Michigan and is currently a representative for the Detroit chapter of the International Women's Writing Guild.
Published May 21, 2001 by Overlook Hardcover. 208 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

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She calls her mother “the woman,” her father “the husband.” Told repeatedly that she is ugly and unwanted, slow and mentally “off,” Ellen does behave in ways strangely innocent for her age, although she seems to keep up at the parochial school she attends and even to excel in catechism class.

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Publishers Weekly

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Ellen's salvation finally comes from a neighbor who recognizes the child's plight and sets her mind and heart on reclaiming Ellen for the human uplands of hope and trust.

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Book Reporter

THE ROOT WORKER is a poignant tale of an 11-year-old African.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Root Worker

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