It is springtime 2008 in ravaged, hopeless Detroit. It is a paean to this fallen mecca for the victims of the atrocities in the grim years of the Jim Crow South. The American dream has been soured, and the city has been abandoned by the white families who have migrated to the suburbs, leaving empty houses in their wake, the closure of businesses and the looming oppression of economic despair. The only spark of optimism for the city is the possibility of change from a new President in this post Bush America, which is searching for a beacon of light and for a new future with renewed possibilities. Such is the family that had lived in the Turner house, which is abandoned now, shielding and concealing all the family secrets. The parents of the Turner family had been part of the generation that fled the South for the city, the two had thought they had culiminated their hard work in the symbolic structure that is their home. With their children, thirteen in number, in spite of disappointments, blatant racism by authority figures and murky pasts, the parents see their children as a mark of their successes. The parents , " "thought their children would be an army unto themselves…forming an unbreakable, outward-facing chain." Thus is born the family that is scattered and lacks the union of that chain . Cha Cha is the oldest child, and is haunted by a presence, a wraith that personifies the burden that he carries of his family. He has been the keeper of secrets, and thus the plight of addiction is deliberately and without sentiment explored in the book. He has been given, however inappropriately the role of the person who covers up his father's addictions and denies them to everyone in the clan, including himself. It is only with a spectral encounter whilst driving that almost takes his life, that he is able to examine his past and see the connection between his phantom and the looming,silent ghost that is the secrets that he has been party to. He pays to keep the lights on in the abandoned family house, and it is because of this homage, that his youngest sibling is able to find refuge there in the wake of the consequence of her own tragic addiction to gambling. The family is both torn apart by the house, and ultimately reunited because of it. They have to make a decision about the house, but it is apparent that the house is not what matters, it is the chain that they have forged, of love and strength and the ultimate hope, as Leilah voices, " For better things".

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