Following the story of Hattie and her 11 kids from different POVs, this book provides a good example of 'what it means to be black in America' without victimism. Here, African Americans are not goody two shoes, perfect examples of human beings who turn to be just tokens/objects/plot devices to showcase racism. No, Ayana's characters are complex well-built human beings, with their own set of flaws and prejudices.
So we have the flawed and prejudiced Hattie, who suffers a lot raising her myriad of children... and standing her husband's infidelities. All her energy is spent feeding, working and taking care of the kids, so there is no space for affection... and the family suffers from it.
But it is far away from recriminating Hattie for not being a perfect woman. On the contrary, it empathizes with her without being too apologizing. (Still, strict moralists won't approve.) At the end, the message that stayed with me was that shit happens, it sucks, but let's practice forgiveness and rise to life's challenges.
Really, it is one of the most inspiring books I read lately, without being saccharine or patronizing. It also interested me how sexually liberated the average mid-century African American woman is, if this book is any indication.