Personal Lives of Black Women | Memoir Reviews

Perkins blends personal experiences and pop culture, and will keep readers turning the pages to the very end. Turner examines how three girls from a similar starting place ended up on varying life paths. 

Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could BePerkins, Nichole. Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be. Grand Central. Aug. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781538702741. pap. $17.99 MEMOIR
This engaging memoir by writer and poet Perkins (co-host of the podcast Thirst Aid Kit) offers a series of vignettes from different points in the author's life that together create a portrait of a person discovering her identity and power. Perkins embraces all the complicated experiences, thoughts, identities, and decisions that make her an individual with a unique voice, a person who celebrates her freedom and complexity as a Black woman. The book is billed as a reflection on pop culture (which is certainly an interesting element of the work), but sexuality is its most prominent theme. Perkins describes her sexual experiences, both good and bad, with a great deal of candor and reflection. The book has no hard beginning or ending, but rather leaves readers with the understanding that the author's journey began long before this narrative and will continue long after. It's a book that's full of surprises, whether Perkins is reflecting on college memories or dating mishaps, and the beautiful writing and honesty will keep readers turning the pages to the very end. VERDICT Memoir readers who appreciate unpredictability, candor, and pop culture will enjoy this book and may very well find themselves thinking about it even weeks after they've finished it..—Sarah Schroeder, Univ. of Washington Bothell

Three Girls from BronzevilleTurner, Dawn. Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood. S. &. S. Sept. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781982107703. $26.99. MEMOIR
In this absorbing memoir, journalist and novelist Turner (An Eighth of August) presents a story of second chances: "Who gets them, who doesn't, who makes the most of them." Turner, her younger sister Kim, and her best friend Debra grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, a center of Black business and culture. The three girls were close and spent time together exploring the neighborhood, finding treasures, and planning for their futures. As the girls grew up, their paths began to diverge; Debra moved away, Kim began skipping school, and Turner focused on academics. As Turner began her career in journalism and settled down with her family, Debra and Kim both struggled with addiction and experienced devastating life events. With sensitivity, Turner examines all three of their lives in an attempt to understand how three girls starting in a similar place ended up on varying life paths. The author's engaging writing will keep readers turning the pages. VERDICT Turner shares Debra's and Kim's stories with aplomb, celebrating the bright moments of their lives while honestly depicting their suffering. She has a stellar ability to present the personalities of her loved ones, especially the women in her life. This memoir is a compelling testament to the power of women's relationships.—Kate Stewart, Arizona State Museum

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