Books·Canadian

Harriet's Daughter

M. NourbeSe Philip's novel explores the friendship of two young black girls and issues of culture and identity.

M. NourbeSe Philip

This is the story of what two friends, Margaret and Zulma, will do for each other and how they choose their destiny in a complicated legacy of culture, race and identity. Fourteen-year-old Margaret, who's West Indian–Canadian and idolizes Harriet Tubman, wants to be someone — just like her heroine. And she thinks that means helping her friend Zulma go back to Tobago to be with her grandmother. Harriet's Daughter is a humorous and warm take on coming of age as a new Canadian.

Harriet's Daughter is for readers ages 12 and up.

From the book

Back then life sure sucked for me: life sucked, my parents sucked, especially my father. My brother sucked and my sister sucked, even the Cosby Show sucked — I mean everybody on it was so perrrrfect, cute, rich and black. I mean how could anybody be so lucky, and with parents that understood them and talked and even discussed THE IMPORTANT THINGS OF LIFE? It was all too much, especially living with a sister who fancied she was a clone of Denise Cosby, and bloody, bloody hell, she was pretty, prettier than me. Thank God she was fat, well plump, and she wasn't rich; but she (my sister) — was too much, really too much with her make-up and designer jeans, and all that gunk she put in her hair to make her look like Denise Cosby. So I grunted in agreement with Ti-cush; life did suck, it really did, and I had done nothing to deserve this from life, nothing. I was always being told that I was the one with "the brains in the family," but I would willingly have given that up for what mattered in this world — style and class.


From Harriet's Daughter by M. NourbeSe Philip ©1988. Published by The Women's Press.