Girl in the Mirror: Three Generations of Black Women in Motion


Three Generations of Black Women in Motion In this vivid family memoir told in the voices of three generations of women, poet Natasha Tarpley sets her own migrations in the context of a long line of African-Americans' stories.

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Three Generations of Black Women in Motion In this vivid family memoir told in the voices of three generations of women, poet Natasha Tarpley sets her own migrations in the context of a long line of African-Americans' stories.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This book reinvents memoir, infusing it with a heartbeat you can hear and feel.--Carolyn Nizzi Warmbold, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"An unquestionably poetic work."--Kierna Mayo, Emerge

"Natasha Tarpley's Girl in the Mirror sings, both inspiringly and with extraordinary success, about the importance of taking a look at oneself to make a change. In this gritty memoir, Tarpley's voice is urgent, determined, resonating, convincing, building a harmony of feeling." --Ricardo Cortez Cruz, Chicago Tribune

"Tarpley's way with description creates a breathtaking clarity, and her imagery is so solid you can taste it."--Sandy Coleman, The Boston Globe

"Ms. Tarpley is an inventive and gifted storyteller. She weaves effortlessly the spirits and hearts of women's lives and reflects their glory for the world to see. Her family becomes our family. A deeply felt and deeply moving memoir-a magical book all should read."--Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Voodoo Dreams

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this lyrical and strongly imaginative memoir, Tarpley (Testimony) calls on the voices of her familyespecially her mother, Marlene, and her grandmother, Annain "a search not only for who I am to become, but also for who I have been." In the first person, she recounts Anna's marriage to Jack, the gulf of loneliness she experiences when he leaves their home in Alabama for Chicago and Anna's own journey to be with him there in 1942. In Marlene's voice, Tarpley explores childhood, marriage to an alcoholic and a plane flight to Anna's deathbed. Finally, Tarpley claims her own voice, speaking of her girlhood, her trip to Africa to find grounding and her rich relationships with her mother and her grandmother. The author's skill at capturing these women's distinct voices is impressive, even if her own memories are less compellingly told. The legacy of love and abandonment, and the force of spirit that these family members share, shines abundantly and gorgeously through Tarpley's accomplished writing. Her narrative skill makes this short, experimental memoir a moving, thought-provoking meditation on the African American family and the genealogy of self. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
An absorbing memoir of three generations of African-American women. In a rumination on the lives of women and how those of generations are interwoven, Tarpley looks to the stories of her mother and grandmother to make sense of her own. Tarpley, editor of Testimony: Young African-Americans on Identity and Self-Discovery (1995), writes most powerfully when she assumes her grandmother's imagined persona as a young wife facing her loneliness when her husband leaves her behind during the Great Migration; ultimately she decides to follow him from Alabama to Chicago before he sends for her. Her mother's storyþalso told through her voice as Tarpley imagines itþis equally affecting; she decides to leave Chicago for Boston after the death of her husband of many years. Itþs clear that Tarpley feels a deep sense of connection to her motherþs and grandmother's history and needs to reimagine it. Her own storyþmemories of childhood and her own quest for loveþis adequately told but it doesnþt have the same impact. The stories of her mother and grandmother are narrated with an almost novelistic quality and are so engrossing that when her own contemporary voice is introduced the reader feels jolted out of a reverie. Tarpley's storyþin many ways about coming to terms with becoming a womanþis more self-conscious. She is a young writer, in her 20s, and her history is still unfolding. On coming to terms with her grandmother's death at the end of the book, she writes, "I learned from my grandmother that struggle and freedom do not come only in grand and romantic pronouncements, but are as natural as breathing, as ordinary as making sure there arefresh-smelling sheets on the bed.þ Itþs a strong legacy, wisely recognized. A graceful and personal telling of a young woman's search for connections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807072035
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Series: Bluestreak Series
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Natasha Tarpley is editor of Testimony: Young African-Americans on Identity and Self-Discovery. Her work has appeared in Essence, the Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post, as well as many literary journals. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2006

    Girl in the Mirror

    This is a powerful memoir of true connectedness, and familial ties. I love how determined the main character is to be connected and stay connected to her mother and grandmother. The stories she tells are powerful,inspiring, thought-provoking and real. I love this book!

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