BALM IN GILEAD: Journey of a Healer by Sara Lawrence Lightfoot

BALM IN GILEAD: Journey of a Healer

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The author's fiercely proud memoir of her mother, Margaret Morgan Lawrence, one of the first black American psychoanalysts. Lightfoot (Education/Harvard; MacArthur award-winner) tells of her mother's early years as a minister's daughter in segregated Mississippi; her adolescence in Harlem, thriving in the 20's; her studies at Cornell, where, as the sole black undergraduate, she supported herself as a live-in maid; and her training at Columbia Medical School and Columbia Psychoanalytic Clinic. Following her mother's career from pediatric residency to public health and finally child psychoanalysis, Lightfoot is always attentive to the obstacles Lawrence faced as a black woman, and the opposing demands of work and family. Some events, such as her parents' wedding day--which does not warrant a full chapter's treatment--are recounted in needless detail. Yet Lightfoot successfully weaves several generations into the tale, giving life to memories that stretch back as far as the Emancipation. This is not a scholarly biography. For that, Lightfoot would have had to conduct more independent research into her family's history; still, this works just fine as a collection of family remembrances, mostly because the author acknowledges them as such in her unpretentious retellings. An affectionate portrait of interest to students of black history and women's history alike.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1988
Publisher: Addison-Wesley