“An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.
Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives–but it doesn’t come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, “well-read black girl” Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone–no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities–can find themselves there. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves.
Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.”- Description from Goodreads
As a person of color (PoC) I was a huge fan of this book. I hadn’t thought about reading about a character who is described like me until I was probably in college. It’s hard to describe, but being adopted and growing up in a home with parents who didn’t have much of a culture to introduce us to it wasn’t a high concern for me when reading. I wanted to read about characters like me but not necessarily about how I looked. I wanted girls who had younger siblings who were sometimes annoying. I wanted stories about school (which I loved). I want to read about funny and adventurous situations. And of course learning about other cultures was an interest of mine but not to recognize myself. I found myself on the pages of kids just being kids and having some out of the box experiences.
That did change once I got to college and I was suddenly surrounded by people who had a better sense of where they came from and who they were on that cultural aspect. I wanted to read more about people who had crazy hair like me and what I maybe missed out on in the Mexican culture that my parent’s weren’t able to share with me.
That being said this book was one I could enjoy and relate to because finding some of those stories for the first time, even as an adult, can have a truly positive impact on those who are reading them. I remember reading The House on Mango Street for the first time and being in awe that something like that even existed because of how fully immersed I was in a Mexican household. Why didn’t I read it when before I was 21 years old? Why wasn’t think a book we read in high school rather than my dreaded Grapes of Wrath? I fell in love with words again and this book made me feel all those positive energies over again.
It’s important for a book like this to be out. Having something so solid and concrete from other authors about finding themselves on the pages of book means so much more. I hope there are readers of all sorts that will pick this up to learn, grow, and find some nostalgia on the pages. It’s a great reading experience and one that leaves a lingering sense of hope for those wanting more books of representation out there.