To My Beloveds: Letters on Faith, Race, and Radical Hope

Chalice. Sept. 2021. 128p. ISBN 9780827237278. $16.99. REL
Bailey’s new book breathes new life into epistolary nonfiction in a poignant collection about remembrance, gratitude, grief, and hope. Ordained minister and public theologian Bailey looks back on the mentors in her life (many from the faith community), the losses (her mother’s death from cancer), and the collective death of the soul wrought by racism (both individual and institutional). The author’s letters speak to their recipients but also to the reader, which allows those who don’t share her background to understand her experience growing up as a Black girl in white society and as a faith leader working to enact change in her community and beyond. And while there is much pain contained in the pages of this slim volume, there is also hope—hope that springs from clergy embracing the movement toward social justice and hope embodied in the person of Bailey’s soon-to-be-born son Max. Bailey’s hope is based not on passive acceptance but in her philosophical blue print for change: Recover, Repair, and Reimagine.
VERDICT Interspersed with allusions to Toni Morrison’s seminal Beloved, Bailey’s book is simultaneously evocative and provocative.
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