Negroland is not a geographic locale. It’s the name Margo Jefferson gives to the place, time and circumstances of her upbringing in the upper echelons of black society. Her memoir, which reads with the blast force of a prose poem, looks back with love and no small amount of anger at a life spent navigating the freedoms of class while flirting with, and occasionally skirting, the imposed limits of race.
Novels- and memoirs-in-verse are always welcome additions to the young adult canon, especially those that show world history through diverse voices. In Enchanted Air, poet Margarita Engle introduces readers to her “Two countries / Two families / Two sets of words” and her own “two selves.”
le of magazines in the spare room or perhaps the mountain of unused sporting equipment in the garage? You won’t find a much better incentive than reading Mess, Barry Yourgrau’s lighthearted account of his two-year quest to clean out his New York apartment.
Rambunctious and poignant, Blaine Lourd’s moseying coming-of-age memoir, Born on the Bayou, takes readers to the swampy, misty marshes of his youth in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s new memoir does more than chronicle his contrasting lives in the two very different worlds he simultaneously occupied. Undocumented gives the Dominican-born, American-raised Peralta a voice and, perhaps, more importantly, it gives readers a figure they can understand and empathize with.
Raw and revealing, Amy Seek’s unflinching memoir, God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother, opens up the world of adoption with a candor that both challenges and comforts all players in this most fraught of family dramas.
When his 15-year old son, Samori, was devastated by the news that Ferguson, Missouri police had been exonerated in the death of Michael Brown, Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor at The Atlantic and an eloquent, powerful voice on the subject of race relations, felt compelled to address his son’s despair.
In 1993, Mardi Jo Link was a 31-year-old wife and mother of two and a bar waitress with a college degree. Just before sunrise on an October Michigan morning, Link and three friends set off on what would become an annual get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge adventure to the isolated refuge of Drummond Island on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 1993, Link was the newest member of the sorority, but she eventually became the chronicler of the highs and lows of the annual island weekend.
When Barton Swaim read a column by his state’s governor, he promptly sat down and wrote him, “I know how to write, and you need a writer.” He got the job, but his writing skills went to waste as the governor insisted on a “voice” that bore only a slight resemblance to proper English.
Taking your boat out on open water any time soon? Already there? You’ll want to weather life’s inevitable storms by keeping your anchor and flares aboard at all times. If an emergency strikes, you will need something to hold you steady, and lights can summon help. In this tender follow-up to her 2007 bestseller, Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup weathers her own storms—the sudden death of a spouse and the inevitable departure of a child growing up—and calls upon her work as chaplain for the Maine Game Warden Service to help in her most personal ministry, her family.