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Posted May 4, 2005
Tricia Rose turns academic research into a literary masterpiece. She interviewed 20 African American females with various ethnic backgrounds, broad range of age, and socioeconomic upbringing. Rose organized the real life commentaries on sex, intimacy, relationships, and race into a narrative that will carry you through a broad range of emotions. The women speak truth to situations that happen in every day life but are considered taboo in the African American community. Rose starts the book with a discussion about the negative stereotypes in regards to sex and intimacy that are portrayed about the African American female in the media. The purpose of the book was developed as an attempt to answer the question, ¿how has the history of race, class, and gender inequality in this country affected the way that black women talk about their sexual lives?¿ Rose answered this question and much more. Longing to Tell is a mirror image of African American female sexuality in contemporary society as well as an oral history that serves as a vibrant presentation for everyday readers and scholars alike. The stories are captured and categorized into three different areas: Through the Fire; Guarded Heart; and Always Something Left to Love. The women, whose names and locations have been changed to protect their anonymity, openly discuss their sexual history; how they learned about sex, masturbation, orgasms, and experience of first menstruation, virginity, pregnancy, and motherhood; sexual abuse, rape, sexism, sexual fantasy and sexual orientation. Some of the tales in the book are horrendous such as incest, rape, domestic abuse and sexual harassment but while knocked down these women were not knocked out. Many tell about the love from friends, family and at times even the smiles of strangers brought them back from the depths of despair. The stories are all different and engaging as their experiences were dynamic while thought provoking. Does your definition of sexuality characterize how you live life? Longing To Tell is an extraordinary account on how African American women survive despite the incredible odds against them. As an adjunct professor of African American Studies, I highly recommend this book as a study into the mind of black women. As an avid reader, I strongly encourage you to read this book as a motivational guide on finding your way out of the struggle. African American women are the cornerstones of modern society and this book proves that! Reviewed by M. Bruner for Loose Leaves Book review
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