Pearl Cleage’s compelling story of young women struggling in relationships with criminal or violent men and raising their children has all the bases covered: women who are facing cycles of boredom, poverty, low self-esteem, but come together to learn to be “free women;” men who are frustrated and angered by lack of opportunities and trapped in a fruitless quest for respect; a mother who is unwilling or unable to take responsibility for her sons that terrorize both the community that they live in and the women they claim to love; a well-meaning, overzealous social worker, the ever-present funding crisis, wise elders, community deterioration alongside hopeful innovation, and the requisite amount of drama, judgement, friendships and love. I Wish I Had A Red Dress is a must-read for anyone, male or female, committed to social programs for young people, gun control, stopping violence against women…and the list goes on. If you’ve already read it, share your thoughts. If you haven’t read it, please do, and then tell us what you think. I especially like the character Tee (Tomika) who is already on the “guns get none” ideology, turning her back on the kind of relationships she has always known and holding out for her own “Denzel” — her best idea of a do-right man.
Bottom line: you may not agree with everything, or anything, in the book but it’s still worth the conversation.