Book Review: Redlined
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 1:17PM
Windy City Reviews

Redlined. Linda Gartz. She Writes Press, April 3, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-book, 256 pages.

Reviewed by Roger Prosise.

Redlined, by Linda Gartz, is a luminously written memoir of a white family that lived in West Garfield Park, on the west side of Chicago. The Gartz family managed rental properties for more than four decades, starting in 1949. They rented the apartments in their six flat and the bedrooms in the apartment in which they resided. Linda’s grandparents worked sixteen-hour days to make ends meet and to get ahead a little. Selbststandig, the German term for being self-sufficient, and racism, are themes of the book.

Gartz’s memoir focuses on her family’s experience of the transformation of their neighborhood from white to black, and the racism and riots that came along with this change. An abundance of the Gartz Family letters and diaries are used to tell her family’s tale. The author also employs her own research on segregation, which describes how blacks were being systematically kept out of white neighborhoods. She is enlightening about how this segregation had detrimental consequences for black renters and white property owners.

Redlined allows the reader to experience the impact of racism, as well as the struggles of living with someone with a mental illness—her grandmother was psychotic and lived with the family for fifteen years. It is also a beautiful coming of age story of a girl who grew up in racially charged and economically challenging times. Gartz provides authentic and honest details of herself and her family, and even includes her own friendships and games such as the dunk tank at the Riverview Amusement Park, which came to be called racially offensive names. Her memoir includes a love story, the obvious being the author’s relationship with her boyfriend/husband, but a more compelling love story is the author’s relationship with her mother and father.

Redlined is a family’s journey through turbulent times, and it brings a personal perspective of life during the '50s and '60s, times of tremendous racial unrest. It is a wonderful read and would appeal to people interested in Chicago history, racial integration, coming of age stories, love stories, and stories that give a realistic look at life with a mentally-ill family member. I enjoyed this memoir, particularly the combination of authentic story-telling and research that provided some of the backstory. The author’s honesty and vulnerability make it a compelling read and draws the reader into the story.


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