Can white women write black women’s history?

There is much to like about The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. It tells a story about a black woman’s struggle to eke out a life for her family in the unforgiving terrain of the Badlands, South Dakota.  She battles against drought, poverty, racism, infant death and a growing isolation from her husband as their farming land increasingly holds them, and their fortunes hostage.

It’s an easy read, with a likeable central character and a compelling plot. It shines a light on a rarely told aspect of American pioneering history.  And yet, this book just didn’t gel with me.