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SING A BLACK GIRL'S SONG

THE UNPUBLISHED WORK OF NTOZAKE SHANGE

The literary value of these works extends far beyond the insight they offer into Shange’s life and artistic career.

Previously unseen writing from an essential Black author.

Shange is perhaps best known for her Obie Award–winning play, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. But in addition to being a playwright, she was also a poet, a novelist, and a diarist, and when she died in 2018, she left behind a wealth of unpublished work. Harvard professor Imani Perry searched through these archives and chose the essays, poems, short stories, and plays presented in this collection. Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement and bestselling author, offers a foreword in which she explains how “Shange’s words gave me language for my own experiences with trauma and love.” Born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1948, the writer would ultimately change her name and become a prominent figure in the Black Arts Movement. In some of these pieces, Shange offers glimpses of her family—well-educated, financially well off, and keenly aware of racial difference. She describes a voracious love of reading that encompassed everything from Nancy Drew to Giovanni’s Room as well as the process of discovering the voice that begins to emerge in her early poems. Those acquainted with the author will see familiar themes emerge as she engages with colonialism, code switching, white supremacy, liberation politics, sexism, sexual violence, and collective trauma. She writes of desire and despair and revolution and Black joy using language and imagery that she was taught to hide from white people. In a series of short vignettes Perry gathers into a chapter called “Dark Rooms,” Shange speaks candidly of her struggles with mental health and her years in psychoanalysis, and she insists that therapy made her a better writer. Several plays, only one of which has been performed, are presented here. Shange continued writing and experimenting right up until her death, and the last section of this book contains poems and prose she produced between 1996 and 2018.

The literary value of these works extends far beyond the insight they offer into Shange’s life and artistic career.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780306828515

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Legacy Lit/Hachette

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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