Review: ‘Memoirs of a Dead White Chick'
By Mary Sharp, correspondent
AUGUST 30, 2015 | 8:00 AM
Lennox Randon’s new sci-fi historical novel, “Memoirs of a Dead White Chick” (CreateSpace, 322 pages, $13.99), presents an irresistible hypothesis:
You’re a 41-year-old, white, female teacher who dies while driving to school in Texas, and you come back to life in the body of a poor black teenager in Philadelphia in 1858 — with all your memories intact. You must adapt to a new race, a new gender, a new station in life, all in a century you’ve only read about in textbooks.
What could possibly go wrong?
Eleanor Ross, who is now Matthew Little, wakes up in her new body and looks around at her new family: “I figured they were the janitors. … And if they were janitors, they had a great deal of work to do because the room was a smelly mess. Based on my surroundings, it was obvious I was neither in Intensive Care nor in heaven (unless heaven has been greatly overhyped). And if this was hell, perdition wasn’t all it was made out to be either. As far as eternal damnation goes, this was more like Heck.”
Eleanor/Matthew adjusts to life without a phone, Internet or indoor plumbing. Matthew still has Eleanor’s smart mouth, which gets him in trouble, and a large vocabulary, which gets him in more trouble, though it also gets him a job. And he could end up a slave — and he does — just a few miles to the south.
Unbelievably, this scenario is one that Randon approaches with a good deal of humor — there’s that new body thing — providing some pain-free history along the way. Much like a pre-Civil War Forrest Gump, Matthew pals around with abolitionists Harriet Tubman and John Brown and, unintentionally, changes the course of history.
One of the most imaginative parts of the book is what U.S. history would have been like, had it not been for Matthew’s well-intentioned interference. (You’ll love who would have been our presidents.)
Randon thinks this is likely the last novel he will be able to write. He’s written a children’s book, “The Ugliest House on the Block,” and hopes to add more to the series. The books are a lighthearted look at poverty from a child’s perspective. They’re essentially autobiographical, told from the point of view of Randon’s younger sister.
He’s also thinking about writing a non-fiction book on how to organize and work with a writing group, but only if the other two writing lads collaborate.