Margaret Tillman’s life changed when someone decided to take away her dignity, use her for his own pleasure and threaten her family if she ever revealed the truth behind her rape. Not allowing herself to be downtrodden and never looking back she created a life for herself and her son that would make her family proud. But, Margaret’s mother did not throw her to the wind. She knew right away when she arrived home late one afternoon that something was wrong. Taking her daughter in her arms somehow she knew it would be okay that was in 1930 and the story continues 45 years later when we meet Alicia.
Alicia Tillman is about to enter Radcliffe in the fall but something would change that forever. Her father a well-known and renowned oral surgeon, proud of his daughter’s accomplishments would soon brandish or exhibit an ostentatious or aggressive manner or behavior when he learns the truth about what she did. Warning her to stay away from one particular young man, Alicia could not resist finding out why. Teens often rebel and go off headstrong and find themselves the brunt of their own mistakes, as does Alicia. Learning she was pregnant would not be the worst thing that happened. Telling her mother would reveal more than just the truth, unleash her wrath and find herself face to face with Mama Tillman or Margaret, her grandmother as a family secret is revealed that would change all of their lives forever. One mistake in judgment would cost her the family she cherishes, the child she has conceived and the home she lived in. Raising Redemption: a story of an African American Family whose secrets go back even further than what happened to Margaret and whose fate has been intertwined for too long with one family that feels they are above the law. When a young African American girl finds herself pregnant from a white man, what about this young man and who is he, that sets off a chain of events so devastating and so heartbreaking that Alicia’s life will no longer be the same.
Expectations we all have them. Some live up to what others expect of them and others tend to disappoint. When Alicia feels that her one mistake took away the respect and dignity provided to her by her family she makes a bold and brash decision to leave home and start out on her own. Finding her way to another city, hiding her true identity she comes face to face with some harsh realities that most 17 year olds in her position would never encounter. But, luck was on her side and after many disappointments, needing somewhere to live with the help of one young girl she finds her way to Mother Lil. Mother Lil runs an escort service but takes him young girls in need of a home. Her rules are strictly adhered to, her kindness is real, her loyalty beyond bounds and her work ethic without compromise. Mother Lil took in Alicia, agreed to pay her medical expenses, give her a job in the kitchen and then teach her what ropes of her business after her child is born. With the friendship of so many young women and the guidance of one woman would Alicia find her way, bring about her own successes and finally realize it was time to go home?
Mistakes: we all make them but some are harder to deal with than others. Not realizing that her family would gladly take her back with open arms, she refrains from making any contact with them, not wanting to face them until she was sure she was no longer what she considered a failure and then hopefully it would not be too late. But, her father’s actions when invading the home of the young man who is the father or her child might cost the family even more than Alicia.
Alicia becomes closer to Mother Lil and finally gets her first degree from Stanford along with her friend Lucy who is going to take over her father’s banking business in Hong Kong. With another friend filtering information to her parents and the escort service keeping her funds fluent Alicia proves to be more than just one of the girls to Mother Lil. Learning more about Lil’s past, understanding her love for Alicia and what finally happens will endear you to this special woman. Many would look upon her and scorn yet others who would look closer would realize that in no way did she force anything on these young women, encourage them to do anything they did not want to do, and inflict anything more than her rules to keep them safe. When Alicia has a date that gets out of hand you begin to see a change in her and realize that she is no longer that timid young girl that left home. Finding her way, making herself proud and worthy of the Tillman Freedom Tea Pot was her goal. But, that would come in time.
What happens when her father learns the truth about her? Which one of her parents jumps to the wrong conclusion? What happens when Mother Lil passes away and everything is left to Alicia? What about her education and what doctoral program is she trying to complete? Wait until you learn about her understanding of the stock market, her goal to help the girls living in Mother Lil’s make some money and what she plans for her future.
Alicia’s goal for Mother Lil’s is to provide financial support for anyone of the girls that wants to go back to school and get a college degree. Her goal for her dissertation quite interesting dealing with economics, her father’s philosophy of second generation and how parents often enable them and need to encourage them to earn their degrees and work for what they want on their own is quite important. In other words her father addressed parents who have children and do not take responsibility for their upbringing. There is much more to Alicia’s thoughts presented in Chapter 10. But, let’s not forget the son she gave up and her desire to connect with him. Alexi is ten and a fantastic skier and wants to become an instructor. His adoptive mother passed away and his adoptive father has always presented a cold front and been distant. As you get to know this young man you cannot help but admire him and wish that Joe, his father would somehow realize how lucky he is to have such a great son. But, only time will tell and Alicia hopes that someday he will learn the truth. Using past connections Alicia is able to establish a foundation to provide funds for the education of the girls.
Families are torn apart and Alicia cannot seem to connect with hers. Her brother a doctor, her family still shunning her. A doctorate, a new friend and her life on the right track and yet Alicia seems discontent. An accident would bring many things to light as Alexi is seriously injured, needs quite a bit or rehabilitation and with the help of so many that care he just might walk again with Alicia’s help, his will to ski again and maybe a small miracle. The author’s research into skiing, economics, finances and the world market are quite extensive adding substance to this outstanding plot.
Lucy has gained her respect and her place in her family. Alicia still has far to go. Although a success and having possibly found her perfect partner what the future holds remains to be seen. Family secrets, distance, betrayals, lies and deceit plague the Tillman family. No one is willing to yield. No one is willing to forgive. Why? To get the future you need to let go of the past.
When Alexi’s injuries are diagnosed Alicia never expects to reunite with the one person in her family who means to the most to her. Families fall apart, one young man’s fate hangs in the balance and the support from friends, staff and unknown to him Alicia is quite compelling. One young man who won’t give up and whose loyalty to his friends is more than just admirable and whose father just might learn a long and hard lesson after all is said and done.
Forgiveness, believing in yourself, letting go of the fear, hate and unhappiness: can Joe do it after grieving Todd for so long? Can Sandra forgive Alicia and herself for what she has done to separate her family? What about Benton and Mama Tillman? Will the love of God help them to heal? What about Alicia? Will she ever realize that she does not need to redeem herself anymore?
The silence that takes place within a family can be deafening if someone does not decide to speak. Everyone makes mistakes and most people learn from them and move on. Alicia and Alexi both have to come to terms with their pasts, their present as Alexi needs to find a common ground between him and Joe, while Alicia needs to decide if she will ever tell Alexi the truth.
“When you consciously hold yourself accountable for faults and redeem yourself with dignity, you may be less likely to make the same mistake again and ultimately create better life Karma.” You need to take ownership of your mistakes, transgressions and forgive yourself before you are truly redeemed. As Alicia and Alexi decide whether they will ever become more than two strangers meeting at a ski resort, Joe has to face his own demons and decide if he can make it up to his son. When Alexi returns to the slopes the true test of his character, stamina and faith in himself will decide if he can meet the challenges. When other truths finally come out just how will this interface with Alicia’s past? Will her family ever realize the lengths she went to in order to find her way, gain her own respect and help so many others?
An ending that will touch your heart and a family that will truly help you understand what happens when a misunderstanding causes a rift that spans too many years and one woman hopes to find her way back to regaining the trust, respect and dignity and one special silver tea pot of freedom. “ The beauty of life is connected with struggle.” Will the Tillman’s over come that “dangerous cliffs and deep gorges or will they become even larger? Read Raising Redemption and find out the true meaning of what forgiveness, dignity and respect really means. Author R.A. Russell has penned a powerful novel; powerful story and one that will help readers understand the power of words, love and family.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
LET’s GIVE THIS BOOK: FIVE GOLDEN SKI POLES AND ONE SPECIAL SILVER TEA POT OF FREEDOM.
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