My Father My Cousin
by Nshira Babre
Trafford Publishing

"The family is simply the trampoline from which I would move forward to become the best that I could be."

The title immediately calls into question whether this is a story of incest, an individual tribute, or a tale of two separate individuals. In good time, Babre answers the question in this well-researched family history that is thoughtfully organized by chronology and theme.

Descendants of Native Americans, slaves and freemen, the Babre family story begins 300 years ago, in Richland, NC, during a time of accepted racial segregation. The family was hard-working and close-knit—so close-knit, that first cousins began to have sex with each other. Soon “the stained ripples” echoed through the generations. Through genealogical research and historical perspective, Babre provides a good rationale for the existence of incest in isolated, rural families who ignore bloodlines. Interestingly, Babre treats incest not as a moral failure, but as a behavior that limits opportunities for growth and diversity. She even has a solution to avoid incest in families: family reunions that allow relatives to identify their kin and avoid unwittingly marrying close relations.

Proper sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation would aid enjoyment of this historically interesting perspective on incest. A photo of a “dinky” (a cut-up truck for hauling logs) would speak volumes, as would more on Depression-era Hoover carts (gas-starved T- Model Fords pulled by mule) and the importance of early radio. Occasional strands of poetry help smooth the flow: “We curse or bless our time, because we carry a torch of light that also cast[s] a shadow.”

Babre's slim genealogical account traces her family back to the 1700s. She uses North Carolinian history to put in perspective the generational limitations caused by her family's incest. Her non-judgmental rationale is a brave tale worth hearing, as is her main message of moving beyond your family's limits to realize your potential, which she has done.

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