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Posted January 24, 2002
Humor, Culture, Emotion, and Wit at Its Best
Toni Cade Bambara's ability to speak to readers in downhome, for-real language that we understand is magical! She doesn't always have to use complete sentences; she starts some of the short stories in this collection with phrases like 'First of all, you don't play with Punjab.' She writes as a cultural insider who wants to help us all understand. She has cultural nuances and insights that the Black reader recognizes right away and appreciates, but she also breaks things down for all readers. It's sometimes hard to locate Black literature that balances our desire for culturally-based content without the overbearingness of some of Black History's hard times. Bambara's collection is great. She captures the self-absorbed confidence and naivete of child narrators and characters, and she allows these characters to come of age, as we see them or as they are mentioned in other stories. She does this is a random, name-dropping way that is effective. My favorite two stories are 'Gorilla, My Love' and 'The Lesson.' 'Gorilla' is about an adolescent girl riding home with her Grandpa and Uncle. The story surveys her thoughts of being pissed-off and saddened because her Uncle, on whom she's had a crush for years, has just announced that he's decided to get married to someone other than her! 'The Lesson' is about a smart-alec teenage girl who is forced to participate in an informal neighborhood summer enrichment program run by a Black activist woman with a short afro. The activist takes the group of urban youth to a pricey NYC toy store, where the 'toys' cost more money than the Black children's families can afford to spend on food for a week. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is a shocking lesson for the children. All fifteen of the short stories in this collection are fascinating. Bambara is able to narrate the Black social experiences that we take for granted and turn them into vibrant, humorous, and memorable tales.
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Posted September 19, 2013
Loved it. Had to read it for a college class and the piece which
Loved it. Had to read it for a college class and the piece which was present was well-written and kept me turning pagesWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.