... feels like multiple books captured in a single volume, yet none could quite survive without the others ... slim and quietly captivating ... Perhaps Griffin seizes on this ethic of care because she has not just read it until she understood — she has lived it as well. It appears in her visits to bookstores with her father and fabric stores with her mother; in her days listening to songs and conversation in a small family restaurant that she describes with such devotion that I wished I could have eaten there myself; in her time in the family’s urban garden, a space that, for the women around her, 'mirrored their own lovely softness amid the harsh concrete world they inhabited.' These are the book’s most memorable passages, perhaps more so for their relative scarcity.
Part-memoir, part–literary study, this book has something for everyone ... Griffin includes excerpts and context from the texts, so readers don’t need to have read them (though Griffin encourages it). The book is organized thematically instead of chronologically, illustrating that the works often mirror contemporary Black experiences regardless of their age. Griffin writes evocatively about themes of joy, beauty, love, justice, mercy, and death, with concise language and varied sentence structures. When she describes her experience of her father’s death, the sentences are short and urgent, matching her worry and confusion; in the chapter on beauty, the sentences become more elegant and descriptive ... Griffin offers a personal exploration of literature that’s historical yet still relevant; readers of the works cited will be interested to learn Griffin’s interpretations.