You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes: A Memoir
Hyperion, 2004 (2004)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
aura Love is a singer, songwriter, and bassist drawing on a variety of music including blues, bluegrass, jazz, gospel, reggae, and country.
You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes
is Love's narrative of growing up with a single mother Wini, and older sister Lisa. In 1963, Wini was hospitalized, and Laura and Lisa, three and four years old, were placed in Cedars Home for Children. Wini suffered with schizophrenia, and an unpredictable abusive temper. After a year, the girls were back with their mother, who enrolled in a college program. Upon graduation, Wini began teaching English to disabled children unable to learn in the environment of a
classroom. Laura writes about her mother's attempted suicide, their dependence on charities, encounters with racism, her mother's times of unemployment with mounting bills, and subsequent evictions from rentals.
turning point in Laura's life was a singing solo at school, which she performed to standing applause. She found refuge in school accomplishments, sustaining A's, and winning the all-city trampoline championship. With affection, Laura recalls teachers who encouraged her singing, and her college entrance through a scholarship program. She fondly speaks of her mother instilling the love of music and books. Love adds humor to her testimony by writing of the difference between Lisa's Afro and her own wavy hair, '
They say the higher the hair the closer to God, and by my estimation, ... Lisa was half way to heaven.
' Laura and Lisa ventured out on their own at the ages of sixteen and seventeen, respectively. They continued school studies, while working one or two part-time jobs to support themselves.
he daughters were told that their father had died in an automobile accident when they were toddlers. His name was Preston (Jones) Love, and he was a jazz musician. Looking through a local newspaper, Laura saw an ad that read '
Renowned Jazz Saxophonist Preston Love ... Appearing Tonight Only
'. Under age, she finagled her way into the club, watched Preston perform, and at break time approached him. Preston acknowledged he was their father, and shared stories of his past relationship with Wini. They learned that he married, and had other children, but he never publicly acknowledged Laura and Lisa as his daughters. Particularly impressive is Laura's '
' in which she writes, '
I think about both my mother and my father ... As bad as things often got, I can look around me now, ... and see how much worse it could have been.
' In 1987, Laura graduated from the University of Washington with honors in the field of psychology. In 2002, she became a foster mother of a seven-month old girl from an abusive home.
n her memoirs, Laura Love is self-exposed to public scrutiny and criticism. She offers a gritty, sometimes crude, story of agony, perseverance and resilience, hope and forgiveness.
You Ain't Got No Easter Clothes
is gripping and heart-breaking, yet a heart-warming story of survival and success. (The book includes Laura's CD album by the same name.)
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