Ordinary Notes

Farrar. Apr. 2023. 392p. ISBN 9780374604486. $35. SOC SCI
In this collection of 248 notes, Sharpe (Black studies, York Univ.; In the Wake: On Blackness and Being) reflects on her life and experiences as a Black woman. The notes range in length from a sentence to several pages and give readers the feeling of reading from a personal journal. They encompass a variety of topics, including growing up as one of the only Black children in school; the imperfection of memory; the nature of grief and the challenge of memorials; the relativity of time; the brutality of anti-Black racism; and the systemic nature of whiteness. Sharpe integrates recent events into her reflections, such as the many murders of Black men and women by police in the U.S., and the Charleston murders and the response to them by politicians and law enforcement officials. Additionally, Sharpe engages with multimedia to explore these topics and muses on photography, meaningful books, quotations, and observations from trips to museums and memorials. She integrates heartfelt personal anecdotes; stories about her family members, particularly her mother and grandmother; and lessons that she has learned from her relatives about seeing beauty in its many dimensions.
VERDICT A resonant collection of stories and reflections.
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