A caged bird sings … and learns to fly on her own

A caged bird sings … and learns to fly on her own

Reviewed by Karen Thompson

A MILLION NIGHTINGALES

by Susan Straight

Pantheon Books, 333 pages, $24.95

Susan Straight, author of the best seller “I Been to Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots,” writes about slavery and race mixing in her sixth novel.

“A Million Nightingales” gives us Moinette, the mulatto daughter of an enslaved laundress in 19th-century Louisiana. Moinette is the product of a visitor’s whim: A white sugar planter chooses her mother for sex.

Far from being a traditional slave narrative focused on only horrors and hardships, though, “A Million Nightingales” sometimes resembles a poem with its sprinklings of French Creole and Moinette’s free-form musings.

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