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Neomi Jean Hattisburg is a young Negro woman who comes of age during the 1930s. Her father, a railroad porter, and her mother, a domestic worker, instill in her a strong sense of faith and respect, however, she finds herself confused because of her appearance, (she looks White), and the way she is treated by Whites and Negroes as a result. When she falls in love with Moses Jackson, a young man she never noticed when they attended kindergarten through high school together, his focused plans to attend college and become an attorney to work for civil rights helps her gain clarity of her own. They make plans together to further their education and eventually marry. Their plans are interrupted by the outbreak of WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when Moses feels compelled to enlist in the Army Air Corps. As he goes through training with the 332nd Airborne unit, Neomi continues to save toward their dreams, working as a domestic worker in the home of a wealthy White family. One evening, while working late, Neomi is raped by the son of her employers. Overwhelmed by shame and unwarranted guilt, the discovery several weeks later that she is pregnant makes her decide that, in order to avoid bringing shame on Moses and her family, she must leave, and start a new life elsewhere. Knowing that it will be difficult to provide for herself and her child with employment available to Negroes, she decides to pass for White, and makes her way to Chicago, Illinois to start her new life. There, she obtains a job on the sales floor in a major department store and sets about living a White life, telling everyone her husband was lost in the war to explain her pregnancy. Over the next few years she works her way up to department head, and works hard to forget Moses. It is there that the son & heir to the department store chain discovers and takes an interest in her. They begin dating and eventually marry. The marriage is successful in that they truly love each other. Neomi finds herself living a lifestyle she could only have imagined, even though she must come to terms with her guilt over living a privileged life while her own people struggle for equality. The first child they have together looks just like her husband, and it only solidifies their marriage. However, when their second child is born, he is obviously a Negro, and Neomis false world falls to pieces. It is the journey Neomi must travel, the trials and tribulations her choices bring her to, and the faith that gets her through it all, that combine to make Ordinary Times: Extraordinary Measures a must read.
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