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Black Cake: A Lesson On Dealing with Trauma

I just finished reading Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkers for my book club meeting. I had no idea what the book was about as I began to read. My club's book puck is always chosen by the host and I wasn't hosting this month. So I jumped right in and didn't even read the summary located on the book jacket. (Yes, I still read hardcovered books, not just digital. Don't judge.)

As I began to read, the therapist in me was instantly triggered as I listened to this family’s story of generational secrets, betrayal, and communication issues.  I was totally caught up. Charmaine Wilkerson (@charmspen1) does an excellent job of building the story. Letting us see through each character’s eyes how perception and lack of understanding can lead to years of disconnection in a family. 

The premise of the story is that a mother, Covey Lyncook, dies and upon her death she leaves a lawyer to reveal her darkest secrets to her already disconnected family in hopes to reunite her children. The story includes parental abandonment, murder, love and seeks to question our definition of loyalty in relationships. 

I know many of you can relate to seeking to understand your own patterns of behavior and reasoning and in doing so seeking to know your own parents’ story. I know many of you can relate to being disconnected from family members due to communication problems. So, this book will hold your attention. 

Such a coincidence that my book club chose to read this book this month. Last month, I decided to reach out to my own father. We haven’t spoken in over 5 years. I chose to disconnect due to the history of bad parenting on his part. However, I find myself in a new space this year. Maybe, this new outlook is due to what we have all been through in the pandemic. Maybe, this new outlook is due to turning 50 last year. I don’t know. What I do know is that life goes by fast. I do know that I get to decide how and when I communicate with family members. 

In the words of the main character, Covey, “Just don’t go thinking that this is all there is to succeeding in life, this picking up and walking away from people. It should never be an easy answer to our troubles.”

If you need help talking about past family trauma or building communication skills, seek a professional counselor to help you in the process.