By Alice Faye Duncan, Charnelle Pinkney Barlow

Just Like a Mama is a beautiful and heartfelt story. Little Carol’s mother and father live far away, so she lives with Mama Rose, who is just like a mama to her. Mama Rose combs her hair and buttons her coats. She teaches her to make her bed, tell time, and even how to ride a bike. Mama Rose uplifts her with encouraging words and loves her just like a mama. The author does an amazing job portraying the loving relationship between Carol and Mama Rose.

This book is truly a great representation of the connection between adopted children, their forever families, and other forms of accepted kinship through unconditional love. In the author’s note, Duncan discusses the term “fictive kin.” Fictive kin describes made up or invented relations. This experience goes back to plantation life when enslaved families were separated and Black men, women, and children formed chosen or voluntary kinship. The authors goes on to share that this continues to be a strategy for survival and well being with all the nation’s challenges in our current times.

This story is personal to me because my grandmother passed away when my mom was only four months old, so her aunt raised her as her own child. All of my current aunts and uncles on my mother’s side of the family are actually cousins. I’m so grateful for all my family members, rather biological or simply because they decided to accept me with open arms and love.

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