RaveOprah DailyAffecting ... It would be easy to reach for melodrama and to overdo the empathy Civil displays throughout the book. Perkins-Valdez veers instead toward showing how it takes many people, across races...to undo injustices. One of the many triumphs of Take My Hand is that we see both the hard lives of the Williams family and their pride ... Take My Hand is meant to offer not absolution but accountability. It serves as an important reminder that the history of medical mistrust among the marginalized in our country stemmed from egregious acts we’d rather forget. But ignoring the past is not the answer; acknowledging and moving forward differently is the only way through.
RaveThe Boston Globe... in Elizabeth Alexander’s beautiful, relevant book, The Trayvon Generation, the poet redefines the proximity of Black identity to loss as an opportunity to create new rituals and a new paradigm ... Alexander is focused both on memory, recollecting parts of ourselves and psyches, and also on repair and replenishing through a shift in perspective, helped along by the beautiful art from a range of artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker throughout. The work of Black artists in these pages elevates the conversation at the heart of the book ... Like a prose poem, The Trayvon Generation is deceptively succinct even as it humanizes our needlessly dead, the incarcerated, the many survivors of instantiations of Black inferiority. The book offers wisdom, reflection, and reportage with a crystalline precision infused with a powerful, elegant empathy ... This is one dazzling, beautiful aspect of The Trayvon Generation; joy as an act of resistance.
RaveOprah MagazineGorman veers away from the aspirational and hopeful tone of her famous inaugural poem...to mine pandemic-induced grief and reflection. There is anger, confusion, and sadness in these poems, but there is also a great deal of history and documentation ... Given the politicized nature of Critical Race Theory discourse fueled in no small part by the continued visibility of The 1619 Project, Gorman’s section \'Atonement\' reads as an innovative, understated, and subversive text ... Between musings and observations, Gorman’s finely attuned attention to the manifestations of our fear, our longing, our loss of so much but particularly, our control, also reminds us of her role—and that of poetry—in recovery, healing, moving on ... The liberating force of the stories these poems tell about our resilience and survival showcases a powerful griot for our times.
Ashley C. Ford
RaveOprah Daily... radiant ... Ford as narrator has carefully chosen which recollections to hold in her heart ... Ford’s elegant, forthright tone is equally present in her authorial voice ... It\'s Ford\'s willingness to share her thoughts and observations, warts and all, that sets her memoir apart. She\'s a woman unafraid to face herself and share what she sees, which she does with admirable realism, humor—and especially, heart.
Zakiya Dalila Harris
RaveOprah DailyThe book is spot-on for our times. The novel drips with in-the-know wit, skewering \'well-meaning\' but clueless white book publishing executives while painting the day-to-day experience of BIPOC employees who have managed to penetrate the industry\'s Ivy-filled halls ... The disturbing message underlying Harris\'s explosive, Get Out-esque satire has to do with code-switching and microaggressions ... As uncomfortable a truth as that is, Harris explores it with humor and memorable characters. It’s the kind of story that may not only keep you up at night, it will likely haunt your dreams.
RaveOprah DailyReminiscent of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, each character is determined to live free in a society that targets her. Garcia’s debut is slim yet lush, imbued with a harsh beauty that reminds us that the cruelties inflicted upon women—and in this case Latinas, are historical constants ... In Garcia’s deft hands, the devastation of such moments coexists with the beauty of others ... Even with salt in their wounds, the women of Garcia’s soaring first novel survive—despite brutal husbands and boyfriends, war, separation, poverty, violence.
RaveThe Boston GlobeIn her new book, which should be required reading for generations to come and is as propulsive a reading experience as her debut, she turns her attention to India, Germany, and what their histories have in common with America’s ... A significant work of social science, journalism, and history, Caste removes the tenuous language of racial animus and replaces it with a sturdier lexicon based on power relationships ... It feels inevitable that in a book about deep ruptures in the social, economic, and psychological fabrics that have gone unrepaired for so long would end with direct calls to action. On this, Wilkerson does not disappoint.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeShah’s overviews of the historical narratives of migration provide important context for our language related to migration. She demonstrates that much of our discourse as journalists, experts, and scholars has roots in mythologies shaped by nationalism and racism. The narratives of nativism and literally made-up theories should be disturbing and maybe will be to those readers who have never been exposed to them before ... It feels ironic to read this when much of the world has just spent months staying close to home and crippled by a global pandemic. But hers is a timeless message. Mass movement and the stories we tell about it, despite walls or other barriers, climate change, ignorant xenophobic, and anti-migrant policies, all have much to tell us about our human and biological nature ... As countries and cities begin reopening, it feels like a good time to draw on some of Shah’s calls to action in The Next Great Migration. Her writing is densely concentrated with facts and anecdotes with brief interludes into lyricism. Her book is a reminder that a more thoughtful approach to the beautiful, increasing movement of sentient beings is indeed close to our realm of possibility.
RaveThe A.V. ClubThe Vanishing Half revolves around the myths it is possible to make from our lives. Put another way, the novel reveals the lengths to which people will go for an easier life—possibly even the life of their dreams. Bennett achieves this by carefully granting us access to the deepest fears of two women who take very different paths and by showing the reach of their decisions on their daughters as well as the other people closest to them ... Bennett expertly conveys how both Desiree and Stella fumble and triumph in their respective, separate lives, while rendering their children’s narratives fully and clearly as well ... seamless and suspenseful. The novel manages to be engrossing and surprisingly apolitical ... Bennett does not write toward the propriety or impropriety of passing—she does not ask us, through Stella, if it is deceitful to pretend to be white in order to avoid the oppressions and restrictions of Blackness ... a novel that reads effortlessly. The characters and stakes are both true to the decades they span and the truths they tell about hiding or passing. There is tremendous, timeless wisdom here about what is lost when we do not allow others to see our real selves and what is found again if we free ourselves from their gaze.
PositiveThe A.V. Club... ambitious, cinematic ... Even though we learn that Maggie has shown a lot of the same indiscretions and flaws as her mother—she’s restless, she’s a distant partner who is afraid of commitment—we don’t get a firm sense of Iris’ identity. She’s portrayed, even in chapters written from her point of view, as a cloying narcissist or an aloof, detached woman with an excessive focus on sex ... While Maggie’s decision to hand-deliver these letters is a cool conceit, there are times when the language, even in epistolary form, is a little wooden or technical...Still, it is a nice change of pace for a book to center on the desire of an older woman like Iris, who is wanted based on her looks, but also ineffable qualities tied to her personhood ... For all her faults, by the novel’s end, Maggie is easier to understand as representative of the kinds of reckonings and rituals that save so many queer people when their families seem to desert them. All My Mother’s Lovers is an intimate, complex family portrait that follows the messy life of one queer woman who comes to understand that all relationships are untidy; that’s part of what makes them memorable.
PositiveTIMEReaders of The Good Lord Bird will recognize shades of McBride’s hilarious dialogue and an attention to detail that reveal a complex local history. Capturing humanity through satire and witticisms, McBride draws everyday heroes ... McBride’s novel is a rich and vivid multicultural history. But he also depicts the vulnerability of men who show most of the world only their gruff exteriors, rendered with rare and memorable tenderness.
RaveTIMEA treasure awaits readers who encounter Red at the Bone ... both a uniquely black story about multigenerational love and upward mobility–and a universal American tale of striving, failing, then trying again ... the author refines the talent for finding precise language to describe overwhelm and passion, confusion and potential she exhibited in [Brown Girl Dreaming]. In about 200 pages, we are met with Woodson’s vast range, insight and tenderness, particularly in her treatment of young people carrying the weight of old souls ... In telling this story, Woodson sees to it that we remember that in spite of our circumstances, for good or for bad, we go on.
Sarah M. Broom
RaveThe A.V. ClubOn every page, Broom makes visceral her longing for the resurrection of life on the wilderness that the streets surrounding her childhood home became after Hurricane Katrina ... a mirror of everyday life beyond the French Quarter, the highs of Mardi Gras celebrations and the lows of drunken visitors, eyes shut to the worst effects of Hurricane Katrina as well as the neglect that preceded the storm, to say nothing of that which followed ... With a heartrending examination of geography and how place shapes us, Broom recovers intersections of race and class by blending her family history with the city’s evolutions and regressions ... [Broom] infuses her prose with poetry and a hint of mysticism grounded in a history deeper and grander than any force of nature.
RaveTIME...stunning ... Though set in the past, the story and its reflections on borders and boundaries carry an urgent timeliness ... There have been few narrative epics that effectively tally the emotional, logistical, physical, psychological and financial trials of the black female immigrant and mother or, likewise, the impact on the family of a black woman who dares transform herself. Dennis-Benn maps the internal terrain of black women yearning to be free — without romanticizing or ignoring their flaws ... Patsy fills a literary void with compassion, complexity and tenderness.
RaveThe MillionsThere are two major achievements in the book: With intricate narrative precision, The Heart’s Invisible Furies cuts to the heart of what family is, how it is chosen, and how it endures. And it is charming and funny, even as it dives down from the precipice of endearing humor into the very specific ironies and cruelties of real life ... His characters are cinematically rendered, with a deft, decadent wit that will make you laugh aloud at least once. Searing heartbreak; loneliness; a quest for internal and external redemption, solace, and contentment are all there in The Heart’s Invisible Furies ... It is the most affecting, beautiful, and memorable novel I have read in some time, transporting me into worlds as dreadful as some are delightful.