"Lyles paints a detailed, thoughtful picture of race relations in the 1970s . . . Highly recommended." — Small Press Review
A memoir of race and education, this is the story of a girl who grew up and out of the Cleveland projects in the 1960s and '70s.
While growing up in Cleveland, young Charlise Lyles experienced turbulent events including race riots and a neighborhood murder. Yet she was inspired to appreciate literature at a young age, and she spent her days reading—and also often searching for the estranged father who taught her that love of learning.
Despite starting in the “slow class” at an aging school on Cleveland's east side, Lyles had a thirst for knowledge and drive for success that would open a door to new opportunities. Granted a scholarship to a prestigious prep school in a wealthy suburb, the vibrant teenager finds herself presented with a bewildering set of new challenges—and a new direction in life.
A fascinating literary memoir from the viewpoint of a little girl who did dare to disturb the universe she was born into . . . Lyles has given a vivid picture, one laced with generosity, humor and insight, of growing up poor without giving up.
- Akhirnya Akhirnya
An enthralling slice-of-life look at what the city once was, what it has become, and what life was like and continues to be for those in the forgotten projects . . . The politics of racial equality—the black militants that brought order to the projects vs. the idealism of her mother—tumble within Lyles as she grapples with what it is to be an Afro-American woman . . . An engrossing read and highly recommended.
- Book Reviewer
Lyles evokes the anxieties involved in going from the projects into the world of scholastic upward mobility. But the real subject of her memoir is another kind of education: what she learned as ‘a girl growing up Afro and American at the edge of a new era.'
Charlise Lyles was born in Cleveland in 1959. She is an alumna of Hawken Upper School, the A Better Chance program, and a 1981 graduate of Smith College. Lyles is the co-founding editor of Catalyst Cleveland, now Catalyst Ohio magazine, which analyzes urban school improvement issues. Under Lyle’s leadership, Catalyst twice won a Clarion Award from the national Association of Women in Communication as well as awards from the Ohio Society for Professional Journalists and the Press Club of Cleveland. In 2009, Lyles was a finalist for a National Association of Black Journalists commentary award. In 2008 she was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs/Jouralism at the John Glenn School at The Ohio State University. After ten years, Lyles left Catalyst in 2009 to pursue other ventures in eduation equality and creative writing. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.