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BROTHERS (& ME) by Donna Britt


A Memoir of Loving and Giving

by Donna Britt

Pub Date: Dec. 8th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-02184-5
Publisher: Little, Brown

An African-American woman's plight to properly grieve for her murdered brother while untangling her own psychological hang-ups.

In her debut memoir, former Washington Post columnist Britt offers an introspective account of growing up in Gary, Ind., a small, industrial town most famous for having earned the title "murder capital of the United States.” The city maintained its reputation, though Darrell's death was unique in that it came at the hands of a pair of Gary police officers who claimed they'd been attacked. "Even in Gary,” writes Britt, “the shooting of the most undistinguished white man usually warranted more than a newsprint shrug. But Darrell was black ordinary, which meant his life didn't matter much.” Beginning her career as a journalist, the author remained attentive to issues of race, though she struggled with her personal relationships with black men, giving far too much of herself to undeserving partners. This was particularly true after she became yoked to her drug-addled first husband, who emptied Britt's bank account and sold the family car for a high. Her second marriage, while stronger on the surface, endured its own set of problems, including her husband's affair. While Britt initially positions herself as the perpetual victim, by the end of the book she begins to understand her complicity in her choices, coming to terms with her husband's infidelity as well as the death of her brother. The author is at her best when grappling with these complex relationships shared between African-American men and women: "Ours is a dance of mutual affection and hostility, dependence and distrust, fascination and resentment.” Yet Britt makes clear that it is also a dance of owning up to hard truths and facing the worst of life head-on.

A probing psychological exploration that delves to rarely tapped depths.