This is the story of those whose stories are not in the history books of the tough settlers who came to the wilds of the west to tame a land that wasn’t theirs- women without men, women with secrets more easily kept in the vastness of the west, secrets they would kill for or be killed by. In the early 1900s, Adelaide Henry grew up separated from the other Black farmers in the Lucerne Valley by a family secret, but when her parents are killed, she takes her burden and flees to the wilds of Montana where she plans to keep her monsters away from others. Instead, she finds other women, women with their own demons who, together, consider the nature of demons. Literary horror or historical fiction? Either way, it is literature at its finest.
1930s Mississippi is a dangerous place for a Black child to grow up. A look, a sound, an inability to move quickly enough away can put a person and her family in the gravest danger, so Marion Clark keeps her children close, tries to give her son Simeon just enough to maintain his strength while constantly clipping the wings of his independence, so dangerously like Marion’s own. It is a balancing game she is bound to lose. But it is Lamb, the daughter Momma has kept close and protected, who accepts a thorny offer of friendship and places the family in a danger there was no way to avoid. How does a Black mother love her children, protect them, help them grow up to have dignity and self-worth in a world that punishes that very sense of self, that success? Beautifully written, this explores the legacy of racism in the very fabric of family, in the love of a mother for her child.
When the ghosts of victims point Rita Todacheene, a forensic photographer for the Albuquerque police department, to the evidence that will solve the case and bring their murderers to justice, it makes Rita one of the best, but the price is high and could just get her killed. Beautifully woven into a harrowing crime novel involving the drug trade and police corruption are the stories of three generations of Dine women, their struggles and wisdom. If you love books with a grandmother you will hold forever in your heart, you’ll love this one.
Stunning exploration of what freedom means, for women and Black women in particular, told in the historical context of a free Black community in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn and Haiti. Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States, this is a book of questions. What does freedom actually mean and is it possible “without a core of domination—over other people, over the land, over groups less powerful than ourselves.” The brilliance of this is that it is told solely through the eyes of a young girl exploring her world, seeking the freedom her mother has told her is hers, in a world begrudging of that freedom.
Seven-year-old Salim knows only that his father does not want him, or at least that is what he sees. Once loving and warm, his father has become a recluse, living in squalor, apart from Salim and his mother. The pain of this haunts Salim throughout his childhood and into an adulthood spent away from his native Zanzibar in London where he lives alienated and troubled by a sense that the story has not been fully revealed. Gurnah’s masterful weaving of a mystery formed within the framework of passion and politics, family loyalties and betrayal, and the long-reaching effects of generational trauma make this coming-of-age compelling and beautiful!