IN THE GARDEN OF OUR DREAMS by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip


Memoirs of a Marriage
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Forty years of an adventurous and loving marriage, recounted alternately by husband and wife, who occasionally seem to have lived on different planes but never lost touch. Both Haizlips are African-Americans. Shirlee is the author of The Sweeter the Juice (1994), a well-received account of her search for the light-skinned relatives of her mother’s family, who chose to pass for white in the Jim Crow days. Although Harold and Shirlee’s memoir touches on experiences of racism, it is really a story of passion and commitment that begins with the couple’s first meeting (on a blind date). At that time, Shirlee (the daughter of a prominent Connecticut minister) was a junior at Wellesley College, and Harold (the son of a Washington railway porter and a cleaning woman) was a graduate student in Classics at Harvard. Since Shirlee’s father had two strictures’she had to finish college and could not be pregnant at the wedding—they waited for Shirlee’s graduation before marrying. Ambitious and idealistic, the young couple was driven by Harold’s career as an educator and first made their home in Boston. Later they moved to New York, where life included lots of glamorous parties—at which they were frequently the only (and, they eventually realized, the token) black couple. They next settled on the island of St. Thomas, where Harold spent a decade rebuilding the school system. Politics threw them out of St. Thomas and into dark times, but they survived and revived, finally in California, where they live today. Two daughters (one a Yale graduate, one a Yale dropout) have been successful. Overall, Shirlee’s account is personal and intimate, while Harold’s focuses more on political and cultural affairs Is there a lesson here? Yes, probably. Once committed to your life partner, hang on, cultivate love and respect, remember where you came from, and celebrate when you can . . . black or white. (8 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1998
ISBN: 1-56836-254-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998