3 Mini Reviews

February is Black History Month in the United States, and while the current administration claims they are going to be commemorating it, well…

Oh! It wasn’t until I pasted that tweet that I realized it was from Brit Bennett. How fortuitous, as I was planning on including her book “The Mothers” in this mini review roundup. Basically, I want to share some of the best books by black authors that I read in 2016.

The Mothers, Britt Bennett. I listened to this book on audio in December, and it is really well done. The themes of motherhood are explored in diverse and interesting ways. Some of the Mothers referenced are church mothers, who converge like hens when there is a crisis. There was a moment when I could imagine them as the chorus, both in the church choir sense and in the “preaching to” sense. There are some flashes of pure brilliance here that make me want to pick up whatever Bennet does next.

Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez. I checked this out as an e-book from my local library. I live in a pretty conservative area, and I was worried that this book would be some type of master-slave apologist BS, since it deals with white men who bring their black slave mistresses with them on holiday. I googled the author before committing, and what I saw was incredibly encouraging. Perkins-Valdez is a respected academic and a serious thinker. The novel bore that out. Each of the women were drawn as distinct, fully fleshed out characters, each with their own motivations and concerns. Highly recommended.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. This one has had plenty written about it, and with good reason. I’ll admit – as a child, learning about the Underground Railroad, I thought it was an actual railroad. Nice to know it seems I wasn’t the only one. This alternative history is even more chilling considering the current state of affairs in this country. Cora’s plight reminded me of the true life horrors of Harriet Jacobs, as recounted in her narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (which you should also read).