Book Review: Well-Read Black Girl

Book Review: Well-Read Black GirlWell-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves
by Glory Edim, Jesmyn Ward, Lynn Nottage, Jacqueline Woodson, Gabourey Sidibe, Morgan Jerkins, Tayari Jones, Rebecca Walker, Barbara Smith, Zinzi Clemmons, N.K. Jemisin, Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn, Jamia Wilson
on October 30, 2018
Pages: 272
Published by Ballantine Books

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.

My Takeaway

I absolutely loved and enjoyed each and every story in this magical book! Reading these beautiful essays, made me think about the first book where I recognized myself. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez immediately came to mind. I read this book in the ’90s and instantly saw me, my culture and family background. You see, although I was born in D.C., I did not speak or understand English until the second grade. My family came from the Dominican Republic and I was raised with their traditions, language, and music. I learned at a young age my friends and I were very different. For instance, many of them ate tortillas, tamales, and refried beans, while we ate “La Bandera” which consisted of rice, beans, and stewed meat. My grandmother cooked every single day and I honestly did not know what a hamburger or McDonald’s was until I was probably 8 years old (my younger brother was actually scared of Ronald McDonald).

Also, every summer I would visit the Dominican Republic with my grandmother. Our family lived in a small town where everyone knew one another (Cotui in the Cibao region). My cousins and I were allowed and able to run around and explore our surroundings without adult supervision. Those summers were some of my favorite childhood memories. Without a doubt, those trips enriched my life and shaped me into the person I am today.

It’s important we see ourselves in books. Individuals of all backgrounds and cultures have valuable experiences and universal ideas to share, and we all stand to gain when those voices are heard. I cannot recommend Well-Read Black Girl enough. The downside? Be prepared to add lots of books to your to be read pile. 🙂

A huge thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. You already know I purchased my very own copy!

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