The author devotes this book to showing the lives of four Black women as an account of a historical experience and its significance for the present and future education of Black women. The literacy journeys of these women are intriguing. For example, Dowdy describes how they failed in mainstream schools during childhood and their reasons for retuning to formal educational settings during their adulthood. Also, Dowdy situates herself as being Black and a woman. "The pieces of these women's stories can be laid out to show the places where my consciousness of being black identifies with the symbols of their interface with the United States" (Dowdy, 2003, p. 12). This in effect, helps the reader to reflect on the author's question "who will claim our overdue rewards from this unjust society? " (Dowdy, 2003, p. 14).
Dowdy's pondering is ingrained within a paradoxical reality of the four women and their journey with the General Educational Diploma (GED). This is not unique, especially for Black scholars (Brown, 2002; Cole, 1997; Delpit, 1996; Dowdy, 2002; Hine & Thompson, 1998), Dowdy's written words keep the reader centered in a life in time and experience. Although the four women succeeded taking the GED, they did so for survival and not choice. Carmen Montana dropped out of school because she was sick when she was 16 years old. She had free time on her hands and she started filling her time drinking in bars. However, once she attended church and found the support needed, Montana started studying the Bible. This encouraging environment among fellow church-goers helped her see herself as a valued individual in the Black community. Furthermore, she was involved in other literacy endeavors such as directing her children's homework and filling the role of church secretary. Also, she wrote poems for every occasion and collected cooking recipes. The turning point in her life, as a student of literacy, was when she could no longer help her children with their schoolwork. She also felt inadequate in understanding many issues going on in current events. Montana felt responsible for her family's success, and as a leader in her community, she felt that it was only right to take on the challenge of improving her formal literacy level. This led her to take the GED path.
The impact of taking the GED was extraordinary. It was not only a personal project, but a path that later led her to empower others. Montana ran a campaign in school to encourage students to stay in school. In addition, she protested against any financial cut that would adversely affect the GED programs in her county.