In 1948, Eleanor and Ruby face different futures but both know that they need to work hard and depend on themselves to get anywhere. Ruby is a high-achieving high school student from a poor Black family in North Philly. She’s in a special program trying to earn a scholarship to become the first member of her family to go to college, but the odds are stacked against her–she’s often late because she doesn’t have bus fare, or because she’s having to avoid the advances of her mother’s boyfriend.
Eleanor comes from a stable loving home in Ohio, now studying at Howard University and trying to get into an exclusive sorority. When she’s rejected, her roommate explains that they only take light-skinned Blacks. She loves her job curating a collection of Black history through the library, a job that brings her into contact with the handsome and impeccably-connected William Pride, scion to a rich high-class Baltimore family. But that family is less than excited about Eleanor.
The House of Eve follows the challenges faced by young Black women whether they are lower or middle class, and takes a searing look at the burdens placed on their shoulders by those who should have been carrying them. When Ruby begins a fated love affair with a white Jewish boy, we all know it’s not going to end well. When Eleanor’s plans for her life run afoul of her powerful and strong-willed mother-in-law, we’re not surprised at who initially triumphs. The story isn’t too overbearing, but it is sadly realistic. Ruby and Eleanor are sympathetic and inspirational characters, determined and not easily beaten down by injustice. Highly recommended