The Forerunner: A Story of Pain and Perseverance in America

Knopf. Oct. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9780593320587. $28. MEMOIR
This is a powerfully authentic memoir from Bush, the first Black woman to represent Missouri in the U.S. Congress. A St. Louis native, Bush came from a family of community leaders; her dad was an alderman and mayor. She relates harmful early encounters with misogyny targeting Black women and repeated experiences of sexual assault and domestic violence. For months, she and her babies had to live out of her car. Bush spent years as a single mom struggling from paycheck to paycheck before becoming a registered nurse. She faced inhumane and racist treatment by doctors, landlords, police officers, and other powerful figures and endured the systemic racism of the U.S. healthcare system. But she also experienced joy in her two children and her service as a preschool teacher, nurse, pastor, activist, and community organizer at the Ferguson protests in 2014–15. She overcame St. Louis’s political establishment, won election to Congress, and joined the Squad, a group of progressive House Democrats. Her story vindicates her conviction that America needs living wages and a stronger social safety net.
VERDICT The life story of this history-making Congressional member eclipses the usual political memoir. Her story is riveting, moving, vivid, and radically vulnerable.
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