Set in Brooklyn during the Depression and World War II, BROWN GIRL, BROWNSTONES is the enduring story of a most extraordinary young woman. Selina Boyce, the daughter of Barbadian immigrants, is caught between the struggles of her hard-working, ambitious mother, who wants to "buy house" and educate her daughters, and her father, who longs to return to the land in Barbados. Torn between a romantic nostalgia for the past and a driving ambition for the future, Selina also faces the everyday burdens of poverty and racism.
Moving and powerful, BROWN GIRL, BROWNSTONES is both a classic coming-of-age tale and a vivid portrait of one family's struggle to achieve the American Dream. This coming-of-age story is drawn from the author's own experience, as are the lilting accents and vivid idioms of the characters' speech. Paule Marshall's 1959 novel was among the first to portray the inner life of a young female African-American, as well as depicting the cross-cultural conflict between West Indians and American blacks. It remains a vibrant, compelling tale of self-discovery.
An unforgettable novel, written with pride and anger, with rebellion and tears.--Herald Tribune Book Review
Passionate, compelling . . . an impressive accomplishment.--Saturday Review
73. Gabrielle Union's WE'RE GONNA NEED MORE WINE
In the spirit of Amy Poehler’s YES, PLEASE, Lena Dunham’s NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, and Roxane Gay's BAD FEMINIST, a powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman.
Gabrielle Unions's autobiography covers growing up in California, the traumas of rape and infertility, and personal victory with a down-to-earth conversational tone and smart-ass humor.
One month before the release of the highly anticipated film THE BIRTH OF A NATION, actress Gabrielle Union shook the world with a vulnerable and impassioned editorial in which she urged our society to have compassion for victims of sexual violence. In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Union—a forty-four-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies—instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: "It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real."
In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.
Nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work;
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Root;
Chosen by Emma Straub as a Best New Celebrity Memoir.
74. GOD HELP THE CHILD by Toni Morrison
This fiery and provocative novel weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.
At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
One of the Best Books of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star
75. WITH RUBY AND OSSIE; IN THIS LIFE TOGETHER by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are legendary stars of the American stage, television, and film, a beloved and revered couple cherished not just for their acting artistry but also for their lifelong commitment to civil rights, family values, and the black community. Now they look back on a half- century of their personal and political struggles to maintain a healthy marriage and to create the record of distinguished accomplishment that earned each a Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
With Ossie and Ruby overflows with consummate storytelling skill developed by decades in the spotlight. From their early years as struggling actors in Harlem's black theater to Broadway and Hollywood stardom, they regale the reader with colorful, entertaining tales of the places they've been and the people they've met. But their charming humor is leavened with a more serious side, as they share their experiences of keeping a family together in a world where scandal and divorce is the rule, and of being artists and political activists in an era of intense racial ferment. Born into the struggle, their characters were shaped by the dynamic collisions of life, politics, and art; and from those experiences, they achieved some sense of their worth as married people, friends, and lovers.
Warm, positive, and compelling, this is a book that will surprise and challenge readers everywhere -- black and white, male and female, young and old. Lifting the veil of public image, media hype, and mystique, Ossie and Ruby speak of the real-life dilemmas and rewards of their lifelong search for purpose and value. Both are authors in their own right, of history, poetry and politics.
" . . . this is a compelling read, effectively evoking the challenges and rewards that have attended the authors' roles as black leaders . . . "
(Publishers Weekly, October 1998)
"By turns sassy and sage . . . full of razor-sharp observations on who business, politics, race and love." (Ebony)
76. James McBride's DEACON KING KONG
From the author of the National Book Award–winning The Good Lord Bird and the bestselling modern classic THE COLOR OF WATER comes one of the most celebrated novels of the year.In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and, in front of everybody, shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.
McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself. As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters—caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York—overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion. Told with insight and wit, DEACON KING KONG demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.
Oprah's Book Club Pick
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the Gotham Book Prize,
A Washington Post Notable Novel
Named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and TIME Magazine
One of Barack Obama's "Favorite Books of the Year"
77. Clothesline Blues by B. Berry
On the fringes of the Jim Crow era, resources for women living in questionable and sometimes dangerous domestic situations were practically non-existent and many women were desperately compelled to take matters into their own hands.
After years of “playing house” with Frank, Hilda has grown weary of his bullish ways and she wants to be free to live in peace. Telling him to leave face to face would be the fair and proper thing to do, and she’s even broached the subject on occasion only to find that once again, her fragile mind and deep-rooted anxiety stopped her in her tracks. Her mental illness that lay just below the façade of sanity wouldn’t allow her to follow through.
As time passed and Hilda’s frustration grew, her thoughts took a dark and sinister turn. She concocted a fool-proof plan to get rid of Frank once and for all, but she couldn’t carry it out alone. She enlisted the help of her dearest friend, Pearl, and although Pearl struggled with matters of her own as she too, searched for peace in her own life, there was no way she could refuse her friend’s desperate request. Will Hilda and Pearl find the peace they so desperately seek?
"What's a woman to do when her marriage has grown unbearable and the very sight of her husband is repulsive to her? Hilda, the main character of this story, although fatally flawed on so many levels, manages to not only gain my sympathy but more importantly my forgiveness. B. Berry has a flair for capturing the ambience of a unique era as well as the age old dilemma of abused women longing for love and freedom from any time period. Fortunately, all unhappy women do not resort to the same tactics that Hilda uses to solve her man problems. CLOTHESLINE BLUES grabs the reader from the get-go. Part history lesson, part social commentary, sprinkled with a liberal dose of mayhem and murder, the story is not a neat little package. It's a slice of real life and just as messy!" (Amazon Review)
78. THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Urgent, propulsive, and sharp as a knife, THE OTHER BLACK GIRL is an electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk in all-caps:: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, THE OTHER BLACK GIRL will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Time, The Washington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Marie Claire, Bustle, BuzzFeed, Parade, Goodreads, Fortune, and BBC's Good Morning America, Esquire, and Read with Marie Claire Book Club Pick and a People Best Book of Summer.
79. HUNGER: A MEMOIR OF (MY) BODY by Roxane Gay
From the New York Times bestselling author of BAD FEMINIST: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.
“I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.”
As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In HUNGER, she explores her past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself. With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.
Roxane Gay’s luminous new memoir, “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,” is an uncompromising look at the specific, often paradoxical details of her embodiment. The book examines the experience of living in her body in the world as through a kaleidoscope from every angle, turning it over and over into myriad new possible shapes. At its simplest, it’s a memoir about being fat — Gay’s preferred term — in a hostile, fat-phobic world. At its most symphonic, it’s an intellectually rigorous and deeply moving exploration of the ways in which trauma, stories, desire, language and metaphor shape our experiences and construct our reality. New York Times Book Review
80. My very own TALES FROM THE FAMILY TREE
TALES FROM THE FAMILY TREE is a collection of short stories that deal with family life, everything from family ties to family conflicts. The characters cross race, time, and geography as they struggle to survive and find their way into each other's hearts. These twelve stories will have you laughing one minute and crying the next as you journey through themes ranging from birth and adoption to aging and death. You will find many of these experiences relevant to your own family tree, and you may come away with a deeper respect for your family relationships and traditions. This is truly a family affair, a downright real "family thang."