Black Daughters Archives

Book Review

Two-Sided Heart: Novel

By Patricia Anne Phillips

Reviewed by Dr. Maxine Thompson

Stories of twins separated at birth have been around for many years. But Patricia Anne Phillips’ novel, Two-Sided Heart, has a fresh twist. This is a multi-layered, intergenerational gem of a story.

The story opens on the day of Elvis Presley’s death, August 16, 1977. This is a great historical marker, because on the day of Presley’s death, the world mourned this rock n’ roll icon as it was the end of an era. His cultural impact was one that combined African American music, country music, and blues. Elvis Presley represented the beginning of more integration of Blacks and whites through music, which also is reflected in this storyline.

Ironically, on the date of Elvis Presley’s death, Leah Mann, the protagonist, goes into labor and prematurely gives birth to twin daughters, one Black and one white.

Today, we see these stories on the Internet, where there is a white parent and a black parent, who, through a genetic chance occurrence, give birth to twin babies exhibiting two different colors. One child looks white, the other twin looks black.

In this case, Leah sees her babies, whom she falls in love with right away. Although both babies are biracial, you could only tell it in one baby. One baby is white, and the other baby is tan—clearly destined to be a Black child.

The problem is Randal, Leah’s husband, is white, and she is Creole. Although her husband knew of Leah’s Black DNA when he married her, he hadn’t minded because she looked white. He met her in New Orleans, where mixed races are common. After their marriage, all his friends assumed Leah was white.

However, Randal hadn’t thought about the possibility of the Black genetics showing up when they gave birth to their set of twins. This may have not been as important in today’s society. Unfortunately, this took place during a social period in history when Interracial dating and marriage were still taboo.

Initially, the father let his displeasure be known to Leah. He even expressed regret in marrying her, although he had loved her. Then, when Leah is released from the hospital with the white looking baby, Brooklyn, Randal seems to have a change of heart. The Black baby, Leanne, was left behind in the hospital to gain weight. The husband told Leah that the baby had a weak heart. In a rash movement, her husband gave the Black twin up for adoption, but told his wife that the baby had died. Because he was going through bankruptcy, he thought the money he received for the baby would save him. His guilt, combined with his financial difficulties, were too much to handle, and he committed suicide when the remaining twin, Brooklyn, was only a month old.

Leah, whose husband has been the main support of the family, is left alone to fend for herself with her baby girl, Brooklyn. In addition, she finds out Leanne, the baby she is mourning, is not dead, but that the husband has given the baby away, so her grief is compounded. But, she has to figure out a way to make a living, so her search for her daughter is superseded by her need to feed her remaining twin and herself.

Thus, begins two separate journeys for the twin girls. Needless to say, the white twin, Brooklyn, has the luck of the draw. She appears white, and she has her mother’s undying love. On the other hand, Leanne, who began life rejected by her father, seemed to have a good start with what appeared to be a good adoptive Black family. But in a twist of fate, the truth came out about her adoptive family, and Leanne wounded up being orphaned and having to stay with unrelated, uncaring relatives.

This is a story of a mother’s deep abiding love and her great courage to rebuild her life. I loved this story because it is a page turner, yet it is relatable. With business elements, romance, suspense, and finally a surprising climax, this will keep the reader glued to the page, waiting to see what will happen next.

This is a tale of what it is to be marginalized by race in this country. Yet, this is a story of redemption. Race is still the number one issue woven into the tapestry of this country, and this is a timely story.

Dr. Maxine Thompson Live Internet Radio Shows
This Week’s Guest – Monday, December 5, 2016

Maxine Thompson

Dr. Maxine Thompson,
Publisher, Literary Agent, Author, Host of Internet Show is cross-referenced to her other businesses

Dr. Maxine ThompsonArtist First Internet Radio

Dr. Maxine invites you to join her this week on her various shows where she will be speaking with some interesting people.

December 5, 2016

9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

This Week’s Guest – Monday, December 5, 2016

Email with questions for the author or Dr. Maxine Thompson

December 5, 2016

Natashia Deon
Debut Best-Selling Author of


Listen to Archives: Replay

Sponsored by:


January 4, 2010

Dr. Maxine Thompson

Author of
Hostage of Lies

Voted A Best Book of 2009

EDC Creations
Black Pearl Magazine

Black Butterfly Press

If you are interested in becoming a guest and/or a sponsor you may visit:
, for available dates
or via e-mail:


This press release may be viewed with links at

The Ebony Tree

Click here.

Author: Dr. Maxine Thompson

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

The trunk of a tree is its foundation holding it tightly in position keeping it in the ground and safe from toppling over. Each branch or limb supported by the trunk and sporting its own leaves and flowers making the tree unique in its own right. But, when a limb falls off, the foundation wavers and the tree begins to deteriorate and its complexion changes as the tree I no longer the same leaving a definite void of emptiness where the limb had once been. Fragile, filled with leaves that can crumble at the slightest touch this once stalwart tree is no longer able to protect its limbs and the foundation it stands on.

Families are held together by their own foundation. Parents provide or are supposed to provide the same support or foundation as the trunk of the tree for their children. Each parent providing a different support or foundation for their children hoping to given them the needed strength to keep them strong and the foundation from falling down. But, like the ground that settles or a volcano that is about to erupt or a tsunami waiting to unleash its terrifying wrath and destruction secrets, lies and hidden truths can cause the same or even more irreparable damage to a family’s foundation.

Steel vaults are airtight and their contents safely protected. Families remaining stalwart in their beliefs and relationships fragile although having weathered many turbulent storms and times often keep their secrets locked safely away from the eyes and ears of others.

Let’s take a trip back in time to the 1950’s when many African American women were raising their families, struggling with prejudices, hardships in a world that dealt many of them a bad hand and hear their words, listen to their voices and understand their plight. Meet Imani a twenty-five year old journalist wanting to create a family documentary and learn more about her heritage. But, her mother Jewel would reveal just so much and her tightly lidded secrets, sacrifices, lies and deceits would not all come out. It is rare that a novel is so riveting, so poignant and grips the reader’s heart and soul as The Ebony Tree by author Maxine Thompson.

Struggling to make a better life for her children and family, wanting to get things done, Jewel Shepherd related the plight of an African American women, in her own words, expressing her true feelings about her spouse, children, family and friends, but even more her cries for help, frustrations and just making ends meet in this explosive and outstanding novel. Let’s meet the Hightower and Shepherd families. Let’s see what happens to their trunks and how their foundations fair.

We begin with Jewel, her five children plus her husband, Solly, who reminds the reader of the grasshopper who never stored food for the winter. Jewel, smart, resourceful and enterprising in her own right, worked hard to keep food on the table, her children clothed and her head above water. But that was not easy with a husband that drank and often wandered.

Mothers of boys treated them differently than they did girls. Girls were considered inferior and often given the tasks and jobs that sons were not. As you meet the many different branches and family members you will understand this even more. Jewel wanted more for herself and her children. Downtrodden and often beaten in her own mind, she took it out on others and felt lost within in her life.

Independent African American women did not exist back then and most did not have the wherewithal to fight and rise above life’s circumstances and forge ahead. Jewel was different. She was a pioneer in her own right and definitely her own person. Jewel did not conform to the ways of others, nor have time to listen to idle gossip or deal with the ridiculous ways of others. Proud and filled with pride she never imposed herself or asked anything from others. She was a stand-alone woman accepting she but never her plight. Wanting more for her children she was strong, arrogant, and definitely motivated.

Filled with discord and family strife, Jewel’s life was filled with many children as her mother’s was but was missing that special love or hug a mother gives her child and one that each one savors. With a family blind her husband’s failings and five children and soon have another on the way, what secrets did Imani hope to uncover and what would the end result be?

Imagine living in a place that smelled from smoke and the air filled with rubber and sulfur. Imagine feeling abandoned as a child when your mother leaves and then returns out of nowhere. How do you react? When your questions are not answered and the reasons for things happen are kept locked inside the other person, do you think that you will not turn out the same?

Mama Lovey was Jewel’s maternal grandmother and she lived with her when her mother left home. Learning about slavery, fighting for freedom and her true parentage unlocked a family secret that would stay with Jewel forever. A Hightower secret. Lovey had her own mind and direction in life. She picked out her own husband and planned her own destiny. Her family owned land and could afford to care for it and never worried about being enslaved. They lived as free men and woman. Her own mother, Luralee hoped for more but had to settle for less. Jewel never felt content and never felt part of any branch of her family. When her children would grow and you hear their stories you will learn that much of what she endured was replayed in different ways through her children.

Turn down the sound of the television. Close your eyes and hear the voices of each character and member of this family. Listen to the stories, understand their own private yearnings and get to know Midge, Paige, Cake Sandwich, Judge and the many members of her family.

As the story continues to unfold the children get older, Midge takes on the role of parent to Jewel’s children and things get more difficult for all of them. Jewel’s life changes even more with Paige’s birth a child so different from the rest just wanting to fit in an be accepted by others. Prankster, tenacious and definitely resourceful she finds herself the brunt of many family differences, scolding’s and at times isolations.

Jewel decided to rise above what others expected and wanted for her. Family situations become difficult. Truths behind many incidents unfold as Imani learns something of her mother’s past but definitely not all. Replete in history, traditions and bringing to light many real life issues, once again author Maxine Thompson delivers a storyline that keeps the reader glued to the printed page throughout this novel. Characters that make you cry, proud and hopeful in a novel spanning four generations of women in the same family and whose roots were about to crumble but one whose foundation would not falter. Jewel, her children, her life, the branches that kept her tree standing, her face to the sun and uplifted her spirits with hope, this is one must read novel.

Listen to Solly’s story, hear about his childhood, his life before Jewel, listen to the final chapters when all the secrets, lies, betrayals and much more are revealed to the reader. Take a journey back and time and meet Jewel and you too will root for her and pray for her as one woman sends a message to all black mothers and woman today: you can rise above anything in life if you do not give up on who you are and yourself. Based on her own family author Maxine Thompson relates to the reader a fictionalized story of her family’s past. What happens to each of her children and Jewel you need to learn for yourself? What Imani learns and still needs to hear remains in Jewel’s private vault. Secrets, some are better kept as secrets.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

For your website needs, contact SG Creations at Stupid Site.Website, graphics, promotional material, etc :D