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by Bridgett M. Davis


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But Bridgett Davis' debut novel, Shifting Through Neutral, paints a child's view of a marriage falling apart. Author Bridgett Davis is fiercely protective of her native Detroit, and she's quick to sing the city's praises.

But Bridgett Davis' debut novel, Shifting Through Neutral, paints a child's view of a marriage falling apart. So it's no surprise that her debut novel, "Shifting Through Neutral," takes place in the Motor City. It's the story of a black family struggling to stay together with a close focus on the relationship between a father and his child. The child is Rae, a young girl growing up in Detroit who watches her parents' marriage fall apart. In this excerpt read by the author, Rae celebrates her eighth birthday with her dad.

Shifting Through Neutral book.

Shifting Through Neutral is a beautifully rendered story by a writer to watch. Benilde Little, author of Acting Out and Good Hair). Hop in-this novel is a ride well worth taking.

Shifting Through Neutral - Bridgett M. Davis

Shifting Through Neutral - Bridgett M. Davis. But by the time I skipped up the walkway, book bag slung across my shoulder, face flush from conquering a new cursive letter or the secret to multiplying by nine, he was standing on the porch waiting to greet me. Together we wound through our evening of dinner, cards, TV, close sleep. This is how Daddy remained alive for me all those years-by settling into a life of simple actions, slow movements, perpetual rest. Speed brought throbbing headaches, and so he paced himself.

Not yet a woman yet more than a little girl, Rae Dodson is caught up in her family's drama

Not yet a woman yet more than a little girl, Rae Dodson is caught up in her family's drama. Her hip older sister, Kimmie, whom her mother favors, has moved from New Orleans to join them in Detroit, a city that moves as if in synch with the Stevie Wonder tunes that play giddily from new automobiles fresh off the factory lots.

Shifting Through Neutral. Not yet a woman yet more than a little girl, Rae Dodson is caught up in her family's drama.

Not yet a woman yet more than a little girl, Rae Dodson is caught up in her family's drama.

Shifting through neutral. by. Davis, Bridgett M. Publication date.

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Information about the book, Shifting Through Neutral: the Fiction, Paperback, by Bridgett M. Book Description: Not yet a woman yet more than a little girl, Rae Dodson is caught up in her family’s drama. Davis (Amistad, May 03, 2005).

For Rae Dodson, the early seventies are as hopeful and promising as the peace signs popping up everywhere. The signature sounds of Motown are filling Detroit's airwaves, and automobile factories are supporting a burgeoning black middle class, which works by day and plays bid whist by night. Rae's hip older sister, Kimmie, has moved home from New Orleans;her mother's nerves have calmed enough for her to stop taking her "vitamins"; her father has discovered new painkillers that ease his chronic migraines; and now, despite her parents' sleeping in separate rooms, the peace between them seems to be holding. All that shifts, however, when Rae's mother suddenly takes off with her lover down a stretch of highway.

Left to care for her ailing father, Rae grows up faster than any young girl should and is forced to admit that her mother may be incapable of love, that her father's love may be too all-consuming. What's most obvious is that neither seems fully capable of looking after Rae, who is searching not only for a way to make her family whole again but also for a way to make sense of her own budding sexuality.

With fully realized characters and an infinitely imaginative storyline, Shifting Through Neutral heralds the arrival of a promising new talent.


Comments: (7)

just one girl
Extremely well written book that takes the reader through layers before reaching its conclusion. There are no hero's or villains but well developed characters with flaws that will tug at your pre conceived benchmarks of right and wrong. I could NOT put this book down and the laughter and tears it evoked kept me up all night. Wouldn't mind a follow up to see how the main character is but if it never happens this snapshot of this time of her life is well worth the read.
Irostamore
This is a great book.
Kamuro
Easy read, minimal character development, but author tied the story together well. Would definitely recommend to a friend to read
Mavivasa
At first this book made me not want to read it, because it started slow. However getting into it, I didn't want to stop. I liked this book alot. I had to read it for my book clun Roven Readers and I just couldn't put it down. Mrs Davis did a great job and look forward to reading more of her books. Great Job!
Vut
This book had depth and creativity. It was exceptionally entertaining. The author pulls you in from the very first sentence. I loved this book.
shustrik
I would recommend this to parents and people who are young and may once become parents. Very touching. As a mother it affected a lot and hope to be a very good one for the present and future.
Umi
The trouble with reviewing a book like Bridgett M. Davis' Shifting Through Neutral (HarperCollins 2004) is that Davis' first novel contains such elegance and subtlety that any attempt to analyze it is like explaining the punch line to a joke. The normal business of the reviewer becomes as meaningless and gauche as watching Anna Pavlova dance with Tigger. In looking for themes, for an angle to glom onto and extract, I feel like I am committing the waste observed by Davis' narrator as the auto manufacturers submit their models to corrosion testing, "defacing a thing of beauty in order to see how much abuse it could take".

This novel doesn't just tell a story. In fact, it's short on plot and very character-driven. It exposes the soul of a middle-class black family in 1970's Detroit through the eyes of young Rae Dodson. Her father is disabled by crippling migraines and her emotionally-distant mother is popping Valium when her older half-sister, Kimmie, returns from New Orleans where she vanished years ago to live with her father, their mother's one true love. Kimmie's return stirs in Rae a desire to understand her splintered family, to understand the mixed blessings of coming into womanhood, and to find what freedom truly means to her. But, when Kimmie's father comes for them, Rae is forced to confront the price of freedom and define the kind of person she wants to become.

Davis' work is all the more impressive given how badly it could have failed. A novel without a strong plot runs the risk of being a phenomenal bore. Yet she combines a beautiful, haunting prose with fully developed characters who are engaging and have depth while making it all seem effortless. The characters are three-dimensional, coming to life off pages of evocative imagery and very little exposition. Davis doesn't describe Rae; she allows the reader to come to know Rae.

Subtlety is by far Davis' strongest gift as a novelist. She uses her central images of cars, driving, and the road for the full range of those metaphors without ever manipulating the reader emotionally or, indeed, ever even allowing us to see the mechanics of what she's doing. The impact of Rae's observations about her family, about her job at the GM Proving Ground, about her awkward and tumultuous early love affairs brush over the reader's senses like gossamer cobwebs on sensitive flesh.

For this reason alone, Davis deserves recognition for writing important literary fiction and important African-American fiction specifically. Rae's voice as the narrator is undeniably the voice of a Midwestern black girl describing the lives of a black family with a realism and poignancy rarely found in popular fiction. She masterfully focuses on race while utterly transcending it - never portraying black families in the way white readers expect or want to hear, yet never allowing her readers to think the Dodson family "just happens to be black". This is both a black novel and an American novel and to place one over the other would be a disgrace to Davis' work.

Living in Motor City and watching those she loves take to the open road gives Rae a passion for cars and the independence they represent for her. Her story is that of the capricious nature of fate that comes with freedom. Sometimes thrilling, often cruel, and always unpredictable, Shifting Through Neutral exposes part of what it really means to be human, to love and be loved by an imperfect family, and to step fully into life.
SHIFTING THROUGH NEUTRAL is a coming of age novel about a young girl's passage into womanhood. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, little Rae Dodson attempts to keep the peace between her severely depressed mother and dangerously hypertensive father, while trying to find her way. As life often is, Rae's journey is a bittersweet one.

SHIFTING THROUGH NEUTRAL is a very realistic depiction of families that have fallen apart, yet remain together. The complex interpersonal relationships between family members are explored, such as the father-daughter and husband-wife dynamic. The language used to portray the story adds to its realism. I liked the backdrop of cars and driving with sections of the book corresponding with Rae's life titled Idling, and Accelerating, which was fitting since the story is set in Detroit, the Motor City.

This melancholy story is long and drawn out at times and loses it's momentum at parts. The novel did not grab my full attention all the way through. It is a good quality story, yet a slow paced read. I enjoyed reading the story about this fictional Detroit family. If you want to be taken back in time, at a leisurely pace to a time forgotten, you will enjoy SHIFTING THROUGH NEUTRAL.

Reviewed by Aiesha Flowers

of The RAWSISTAZ™Reviewers
Shifting Through Neutral download epub
Social Sciences
Author: Bridgett M. Davis
ISBN: 0060572493
Category: Politics & Social Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences
Language: English
Publisher: Amistad; First Printing edition (May 4, 2004)
Pages: 320 pages