Mattaponi Queen by Belle Boggs

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Mattaponi Queen by Belle Boggs, winner of the Middelbury College Broadleaf and Bakeless writers prize tells the story of a series of characters going to high school and college in Virginia. Belle Boggs writes of the small town sagas that make and break characters, in Homecoming,

“What trouble was there to be had in a little town- not even a town-in Virginia? In his mind he saw cows and fields, weedy ditches, long dirt driveways to nowhere. . .Granny didn’t have long distance phone service-so he could call his friend Khalil and tell him how boring everything was. . . Marcus ran. . You ever play football?. .Well you’re gonna play football for us. . .The drugs came in a plain manila envelope. . Wally’s dealer, a white kid with mirrored sunglasses. . . People do all kinds of things, you can’t know why,  Marcus has a state-appointed attorney,”(130-160).

Belle Boggs presents the struggle of these characters as they enter the outside world to join and find a productive place within their society, along with the dramas and dangers the young characters find along their journey,

“Melinda wanted to explain. . how when you loved someone it did not matter what other people thought. . .countless teen pregnancies a few from Melinda’s own cheering squad. . M- was shocked by how much Jessica had changed; three years later, a dropout from nursing school, she had put on twenty pounds at least, and she was doughy-pale. . .being a reverend’s wife was its own kind of job.”(100-104)

Belle Boggs  minces no words in her recount of the school systems and the naive characters just trying to find their place in the world,

“You’re smart, get an education. . I’ll take care of your kids. . .Then she comes in to me to say we gotta get out of here these city people are crazy, they gonna wear us down till there’s nothing left. . .In this city school system there’s nothing outside their homes, but trouble so they keep them busy. . I used to play outside from 3:15 until dark.”

The drug and alcohol induced saga leads the reader along an unlikely path and journey throughout the east coat ends with the words of inscribed on the boat of the Mattaponi Queen, with a story that presents an unyielding commentary on the nature of people’s lives and the tumult of youth.

Belle Boggs is a native of King William County Virginia, and holds a masters in fine arts from the University of California at Irvine. She follows in a tradition of witty, young female academics, read her blog at Belle Boggs .

Mattaponi Queen Reading

Review of Mattaponi Queen by The Rumpus

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