Breathe: A Letter to My Sons

Beacon. Sept. 2019. 184p. notes. ISBN 9780807076552. $18; ebk. ISBN 9780807076569. SOC SCI
Sharing her thoughts on motherhood, particularly being the mother of black boys in America, Perry (African American studies, Princeton Univ.; May We Forever Stand) presents her adolescent sons Issa and Freeman with reflections on striving to live a good life. She writes of pleasures, pains, and possibilities; successes and challenges; and the injustices of the culture they must navigate as young black men and, later, adults. She describes her hopes and fears, and the sorrowing strength of black mothers who lose their sons to murder. Perry longs for history not to be forgotten; for a different future, not simply a fantasy. She writes of the parental paradox of wanting to hold children tight while also wishing for them to soar. Her recollections focus on time together with her sons, offering lessons they have taught her, and lessons she is trying to teach them. The author reminisces about her own childhood in order to illustrate the importance of family, the bindings of responsibility and wisdom, and the rewards of unceasing love and passion.
VERDICT Perry’s uplifting and often lyrical meditation on living invites readers to delve into their self and particularly into the complicated categories of mother, parent, African American, and human. Highly recommended.
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