The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

The Women of Brewster Place

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A classic! That’s the impression I received while reading this book. Gloria Naylor is a genius in her narration, word choices, and tone of characters in this book. Naylor beautifully describes and depicts the lives of these seven women and captures the readers into every story with ease.

The book and movie were very similar. Although there were slight variations in the movie, the book and movie did a fantastic job in covering this story.

This book details the lives of seven women who find themselves together at the Brewster Place. These women represent women all over the world who may face trials and obstacles in life. The Brewster Place could represent the men who had abandoned, left, and forgotten all about these women. The Brewster Place was a collection of buildings who had been forgotten and left by the landlord, but still wanted the rent money.

The women are: The single mother with ungrateful children, a mother who loses a child and a man, the woman who is a showstopper who, who captures a wide variety of men, but winds up being lonely all the time. There was also independent women, self-righteous woman who is trying to prove herself to her family by living on her own, and finally, bi-curious women, who don’t need a man.

Gloria Naylor did a fantastic job in creating this meeting place and collection of women.

I would rate this book a 5, and would recommend this book to anyone; especially women who enjoy reading about various personalities of women around the world.

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A Yellow Sonnet for Black Rebels by Cassandra Powell

A Yellow Sonnet for Black Rebels

A Yellow Sonnet for Black Rebels by Cassandra Powell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Poetry is a very subjective genre. Everyone can get something different from a poem. That is the beauty in poetry. You can feel a different way each time you read a passage, or a haiku or a few lines from an impactful poem or story.

What A Yellow Sonnet for Black Rebels does, is that it lays bare the young black soul. The depth of poems all range from slavery to racism post-slavery, the struggle of the pipeline to prison, social justice uprisings, fighting against police brutality, fighting for accountability to the police force killing off innocent black bodies, shedding light to the cyclic struggle many black people find themselves in just trying to make a decent living due to systemic racism, and many more facets that are all too familiar to the black struggle.

This book can also be seen as a call to action. A call for more proactive vigilance in the community, protection, knowledge, and a never-ending battle for equality of our God-given right for a place on this soil that has been soaked with the blood of our ancestors.

From the very introduction, the author allows you to see the journey painted before you, and how this collection of works will “paint the beauty and tragedy of the black journey. ” This book shows the world how black humanity struggles daily in its quest for God-given freedom, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. These works will touch your soul as you read through the short stories and poems that give nods to Toussaint L’Overture, Assata Shakur, Bobby Hutton, the Black Panthers, Huey P. Newton, and many more. I highly recommend this book to all black rebel souls who are continuing the fight for freedom and justice! This is your song!

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The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4/5 Book Review: The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

I chose this book because it was a NY Times Best Seller for 2019. One of President Obama’s favorite books of 2019. This book also won the National Book Award in 2019.

Cracking this book open, I was immediately introduced to Sarah Broom’s familial beginnings. She brings you all the way into her family as if you are a relative, sharing with you intimate details of her family roots, and you get to see everything as it happened chronologically, starting with her great-grandmother Rosanna Perry.

Her memoir is nothing like I’ve ever read before. Sarah creates for her readers how she was shaped by her family, her house, her city, the circumstances around Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath in New Orleans, her quest for her self-identity, and how all these events in her life, made her and her family what they are today. “We are all born into histories, worlds existing before us. The same is true of places. No place is without history.” (p. 331)

Told through her experiences through the Yellow House, in a forgotten side of town called New Orleans East, Sarah retells the history of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, and a large family over 60 years. The Yellow House came to be because Sarah’s mother, Ivory Mae, a 19 year old widow and single mother of three, purchases the house in 1961 with the life insurance payout from the death of her first husband, Webb. Ivory Mae would soon remarry a man named Simon Broom with three small children of his own, and together they would have six more, bringing the total child count to twelve in the two bedroom house. Six months after Sarah was born, Simon would have a brain aneurism in the bathroom and leave her mother Ivory Mae to raise all twelve by herself in said house.

When I learned of her father’s death on June 14, 1980, it struck me personally. I was born on June 15, 1980, and I thought about how when I was being born, Sarah, at 6 months of age, would never know her father. Sarah and I are 6 months apart in age. Existing in the same world at the same time, and seeing her experiences reflected on this page, was surreal. Often I feel transported into a make-believe world of fiction when I read, or not truly understand the facts in non-fiction works that they existed when I was alive… almost seems like it happened in some other world/universe. However, when I read about her father passing one day before Father’s day, and how my father became a father on Father’s day, I was immediately connected to her in some way.

The Yellow House though, is more than just a house to her family. The Yellow House is protection from the outside world in all matters of speaking. Segregation, racism, disaster, death, friendship, love, you name it. After hurricane Katrina hits, and the house is demolished without anyone knowing, you feel the impact of lostness that the family goes through when their home is gone. This book shows how having a home is so vital and can mean everything to a family.

Sarah also uses the Yellow House as a device to tell the story, not only of her family, but to share the history of segregation, New Orleans, opportunities for African Americans during and after the Civil Rights movement, what being Creole meant, how Hurricane Katrina divided the city into the haves and the have nots, and how that affected her family and the lives of everyone she knew.

Reading about the damaging affects of Hurricane Katrina, both the natural disaster and how the government played a part in black people’s lives, all I kept thinking about was when Kanye West came on television and said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” As Sarah first tells about Hurricane Betsy and then 40 years later Hurricane Katrina, both disasters proved to all black people that the city and government cared more about white people’s spaces and tourism, and how they sacrificed black people’s lives to save a few. “…much of what is great and praised about the city comes at the expense of its native black people, who are, more than not, underemployed, underpaid, sometimes suffocated by the mythology that hides the city’s dysfunction, and hopelessness.” (p. 301)

For me, The Yellow House wasn’t a particularly easy read, because it asks difficult questions, faces events and exposes some shameful moments many people would rather not think about, while pondering the American experiment and the work left to be done. However, if you are open minded, and allow what is said to take hold of you and show you what America really is to some people in this nation, then this is a great book for you. Definitely recommended.

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A Cry Among Men by C. Erskine Brown

A Cry Among Men by C. Erskine Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4/5 Book Review: A Cry Among Men by C. Erskine Brown

The author has written a very dramatic and traumatic turn of events in the lives of a black family. Don Wilcox (African American) is a successful investment banker who works magic on Wall Street. As history will tell, “black people can’t never have NOTHING!” Meaning, that there are some white folks who harbor angst and racism towards black people who are successful, believing that it is white people’s god-given right to rid black people of things, life, and happiness because they believe black people shouldn’t have anything. Let alone, anything more than what they have. This debut novel explores what happens when an entitled white male invokes his racist mentality onto a successful black man, trying to do everything in his human power to break him. Conquer him. Mentally enslave him.

It is no secret that African Americans (in this case, males) continue to combat hate, racism, jealousy and all forms of micro and macro-aggressions, in the workplace and society in general; simply because of skin color.

The book also details how this black man processes the traumatic event in his life, and how he lives out the residuals of this trauma in his marriage and family relationship with this son.

The author prefaced this novel with a note to the reader warning the readers about the type of content that may be exposed to while reading. I also appreciated the bible verses that accompanied every chapter in the book, and how it tied into the content of the chapter, especially knowing that the reader has declared that he is a believer and devout Christian.

Although the content was quite disturbing, the author did a phenomenal job in the writing of this story. Very detailed, thought provoking, imaginative, and realistic in how the story unfolded. I was so emotionally invested in the characters that I didn’t want to put the book down.

The only critical thing I have to say about the book is the excessive use of large words sprinkled throughout the text and in conversations had by the characters in this book. I had to look up quite a large amount of words, which kind of distracted me from the story, but all the words were used in correct contexts. I was able to get past that and still enjoy the book, but I could have done without the large exorbitant word choices that were used here.

Overall, I rate this book a thrilling 4. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I didn’t want to put the book down once the story got rolling.

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Closing words… that sums up this book…

this is not about feeling something or about speaking words
this is about being

“Wow!” Those were the words I said aloud to myself as I finished this book. This contemporary literary fiction work of art makes me cogitate on my life and the relationships I’ve had with the women in my family, the women I call friends, and the women who I just know… who have all been apart of my molding and shaping of the woman I’ve become in the near 40 years of my life. I recollected many things in my life… my once upon a time failed marriage that ended in a bitter divorce with a perilous embroiled custody battle for my then 3 year old daughter. My broken/ambiguous relationship with my own mother. My anxiety-ridden response to potential friendships with other women my age (scared to engage due to fear of being judged), and coming of age as a tomboy who was talked about fiercely in school because of my lack of feminism and feminine-like characteristics that many people thought and said aloud that I was “other.” The chapter in the book titled Morgan/Megan was one of the most profound in that I felt they stepped out in their purpose and became who they were in spite of what others wanted them to be. They embodied how women are reconfiguring feminism and that grassroots activism is spreading like wildfire
and millions of women are waking up to the possibility of taking ownership of our world as fully-entitled human beings
How can we argue that?

Girl, Woman, Other allows you to look at women in all types of light. Sees the whole of the picture for what it is, and allows you to navigate through 12 women how they self-identify, how they grow or not grow in their own relationships due to their own boxes they’ve created for themselves, and how society interacts with them in their truth. This book unfolds how women should become their true self in spite of society’s pressure to be otherwise, whatever that may look like for you.

life is about taking risks, not about burying your head in the sand

This is a novel of polyphony, polygenetic, polygenderism. This novel gives you a natural examination of the core shared identity of all of the women alongside all of their differences and journeys; all while giving visibility to black British women in literature.

Mrs. Evaristo has chosen to describe this work of art as “fusion fiction” – a fluid form of prose poetry, with a dearth of conventional sentences with capital letter openings and full stop endings. You literally go inside of the characters because of the way the prose enables your to read throughout, going through time, between stories, and characters without inhibition.

Girl, Woman, Other grouped the characters in 4 sets of 3 – with clear and immediate links between the characters in each set, but less obvious and emerging links between the characters in different sets. Evaristo brings in the backstories of their parents, their closest friends, and even the parents of their closest friends. All of the women are black, British, and female, that range from different ages, sexuality, sexual identity, formative experience, family unit structure, ethnic make-up, ancestral origin, shade, region, occupation, cultural background, class, and degree of activism.

There is a message to all in this novel:
you can either decide to be crushed by the weight of history, and modern-day atrocities, or you could go into warrior pose

What say you?

Polemic. Challenge. Warmth. Humor. Self-awareness. Astonishing. Moving. Controversial. Original.

5 stars.

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