A vibrant collection of first-person narratives based on interviews with young African-American girls. Educator Carroll traveled the country, interviewing dozens of black girls between the ages of 11 and 20. The essence of 15 of these interviews makes up this brash and compelling oral history. While the book presents a wide range of voices from vastly different social and economic backgrounds, all of the subjects share a singular sense of independence, self-reliance, and pride. Fourteen-year-old Jo-Laine says, ``Being a part of black culture feels very good to me . . . and even though I know that no matter what I do or say, there will always be somebody who's going to try and put me down or make me feel like less of a person than they are, all I have to do is think about how far we've come.'' In their determination to succeed in a world buffeted by self-destruction and self-indulgence, sex is not something these girls take casually. Fourteen-year-old Latisha observes that the only thing many young men want is sex, ``and if we keep giving it to them, they gonna think they can get it anytime they want it. It's disrespectful.'' Religion seems to play a significant, positive role in the lives of these young women, providing strong support. Many of the interviewees have had considerable interaction with white people and express impressions ranging from distrust to genuine affection. Of particular interest is 20-year-old Sophie, who, like the author, was adopted into a white family. Having grown up among upper-middle-class whites, Sophie makes a conscious decision to marry a black man and immerse herself in his world. Carroll succeeds at both giving shape to these profiles and keeping the text convincingly real. Young black voices that move and enlighten.
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