Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A young woman remembers her sexual abuse by her uncle. Another sees her rapist in the supermarket only a year after the assault. A third connects deeply with her mother over an unwanted pregnancy. Most of the 11 essays in this earnest collection are about surviving, but those that feel freshest are about joy. Roberts, an editor at Essence magazine, keeps her virginity but indulges her sexuality, reveling in "scrumptious exchanges" and teaching her lovers to take it slow. Actress Jada Pinkett glows nostalgically over her grandmother's free-spoken insights about sexual freedom. Eisa Nefertari Ulen writes effervescently about the women who supported her as she reached maturity: "My circle of women has taught me to shake my body and love it." Many important issues, including living with AIDS and coming out as a lesbian, are covered here with frank sincerity and candor, if not exceptional originality. There is also an extensive directory of resources for sexual health. Girls of all races will hear their experiences and concerns echoed in the voices of these African American women. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
These candid essays on sexual identity by ten African-American women explore the diverse boundaries of sexuality. With amazing courage, these women tell their own stories and provide an intimate and compelling view of the struggles faced by young women today. Whether it is recovering from rape, embracing a lesbian orientation, or taking pride in virginity, each of these women has embarked upon a journey to build or rebuild her own sexual identity. Facing the issues of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and psychological responses to sexual activity, these essays also examine the health issues young women encounter. These essays are powerful affirmations of self-awareness, independence, and love. This book should be read and discussed by women and men from all walks of life.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 UpA collection of essays about sexuality that reads like a soul-to-soul talk among a group of very close friends. Each young woman shares an experience or point of view in a unique voice. Some are positive, others are hurtful, but not without some possibility of healing. The subjects covered include virginity, rape, sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, AIDS, and incest. Mother-daughter relationships, maintaining self-esteem, and the power of friendship and community with other women are also addressed. Written from an African-American perspective, the text reflects a current movement in books about sexuality and related issues toward first-person narratives. The intention of these titles is not to supplant existing informational texts but to speak to the surrounding human issues individuals face during their biological development. Depending on the relationships available to young people, such a book can provide much-needed and useful personal information about how to navigate in the world and the potential consequences of interpersonal relationships. This book will have special appeal to young black women, but will be of benefit to other readers as well. An extensive resource list of various organizations, many with 800 numbers, provides more information about the topics discussed. Short biographies of the contributing authors reinforce the fact that these are real people sharing real experiences.Melissa Gross, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Subtitled African American Reflections on Sex and Love, this is an uneven collection of personal accounts of rape, child abuse, incest, AIDS, abortion, homosexuality, and failed relationships (with men, with mothers).
Roberts states, "A collective of young black women has come together to share their sexual stories," then launches the book with a frank account of her own encounters and the pronouncement that women are now "demanding that guys touch them" in addition to "getting theirs." She defines virginity as "strength, force, skill" that she hopes to keep all her life. Other pieces, cast as essays, feel manipulated to present a moral or a sense of closure. Common to many of the stories are bad writing and clichés ("these women represent the mass," "beyond my wildest dreams," "I went into shock"). These reflections are as mesmerizing as the revelations offered on talk shows, and just as earnest, but do not withstand scrutiny on the page.