On the Rooftop

Rating: 5 out of 5.
On the Rooftop book cover

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton – September 6, 2022

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton has written a warm, bittersweet story of music, family, and resistance. In an homage to Fiddler on the Roof, Ms. Wilkerson Sexton has placed her characters and plot in post-WWII San Francisco’s Fillmore District, where each family member’s story unfolds against the threat of forced eviction of the entire neighborhood through the city’s assertion of their right of eminent domain.

Vivian, a Louisiana native, is a widow and mother to Ruth, Esther, and Chloe, all in their twenties. While Vivian’s dream for her daughters is fame, fortune, and most importantly, safety, as a girl group, she soon learns that each of her girls is called to express her own song. Set against the looming threat of redevelopment, these dramas play out quietly – but the love among family, friends, and neighbors is anything but quiet; it’s exuberant, like the music and the prose, which sings.

You won’t regret the time spent reading this rich piece of historical fiction. Consider educating yourself about the history of the Fillmore District, including the effect of “redevelopment” on the African Americans who were displaced, before reading the book for an informed reading experience; this reviewer found first-hand accounts on www.foundsf.org, a digital archive of material about San Francisco’s history.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the ARC I used to write this honest review.

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