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On Our Way to Beautiful: A Family Memoir Hardcover – March 19, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1st edition (March 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375504931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375504938
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,828,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Young, a syndicated columnist and Sunday school teacher, draws from both her professions in this collection of autobiographical vignettes about growing up in Shreveport, La., in the early 1970s. Each chapter carries a biblical epigraph, and each tale serves a moral purpose (e.g., "to get a head start in life we needed the same skills that were required to win at musical chairs intuition, flexibility, and a great deal of stamina"). But it is Young's storytelling skill, her ear for dialogue and her eye for picture that broaden her appeal. Events both momentous and small summer revival camp, wrapping the maypole, schoolyard scraps, celebrating Juneteenth and the Fourth of July, a tornado, a whipping and more are rendered vividly. She carefully remembers the people in her life, including her great-grandmother, Big Momma; Honeymoon and Pappy, her grandparents; and her mother, Momma, along with a host of uncles, aunts and neighbors. Occasionally, Young visually recalls moments of ordinary African-American life, as when she describes "the Eastern Stars wearing long white dresses with purple-and-gold, blue-and-white, burgundy-and-brown sashes draped across their chests and small thimble-shaped hats on their heads." Although abusive husbands, racial tension, a murder and even a pedophilic uncle intrude, they do not thwart the march to "beautiful." This is an uncommonly engaging book about learning to love oneself, one's family and one's world. Agent, Linda Chester & Associates.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This inspiring story of an attorney, syndicated columnist, and Sunday-school teacher is a riveting tale of one woman's secret to success. What makes this book so valuable are Young's observations about growing up in Shreveport, LA, and her religious faith. The author has a magnificent storytelling style, and throughout the book she introduces a host of memorable family members and neighbors. All of the stories offer a wealth of practical information, emotional support, and advice for teens. They capture 1970s' African-American familial life accurately-the recollections of mistakes, lessons learned, and insights gained. The author's sense of humor and down-to-earth style make this book one teens won't easily forget.
ayo dayo, Chinn Park Regional Library, Prince William, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Ms Young tells her story of growing up in Louisiana.
J.C. Wallington
With a very lyrical prose, On Our Way to Beautiful is peppered with metaphors and similes that will force you to stop and savor their meanings.
Dawn R Reeves
I can't help but want to know if Big Momma or Honeymoon, or Pappy are still alive.
John J Raphael

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dawn R Reeves on May 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Among the many churches and juke joints, Yolanda grew up in a deeply religious home amid poverty, family violence, and dreams deferred. Raised by women, who endured much heartache, Yolanda watched and questioned their strengths, which in turn allowed her to seek out her dreams; this is the memoir of Yolanda Young. On Our Way to Beautiful, paints a poignant picture of her childhood in Shreveport, Louisiana.
At a very young age she witnessed the shooting of her mother by her father and struggled to understand her mother's forgiveness. Through her great grandmother, Big Momma, Yolanda was able to at least come to terms with the hand she was dealt. Big Momma, along with her grandmother Honeymoon and her mother, provided a strong spiritual base for Yolanda and the entire family. We are given detailed information about this large family and its extended members and how they helped shape Yolanda. While the woman appear to be strong willed, the men come in an assortment of personalities and strengths from God fearing, athletic to almost timid and naïve. They too lived off of the wisdom of the women in this family.

Through vivid imagery, we are able to witness Yolanda and her classmates' integration into a junior high school on the other side of town; how Yolanda tries to make the best of the situation and her attempts to fit in. Her mother...."Let me get this straight, you don't have a pot to...in or a window to throw it out of, but you want to put a forty-two-dollar shirt on your back?" "Don't try to dress like you've arrived until you do." "The novelty of being "in" was short-lived, especially after I discovered that being "in" didn't make you equal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John J Raphael on June 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Maybe it's because I'm from Louisiana, maybe it's because I had a Big Mama, a Grandmother and Grandfather, and a Maw-Maw too, but Yolanda Young has taken me back to the wonderful days of my own childhood in ON OUR WAY TO BEAUTIFUL.
This is so good that even though it is autobiographical, it reads like wonderful fiction, yet all the while completely authentic and believable. The author has given us the personalities so well and so deeply that there is a feeling of intimacy with them. I can't help but want to know if Big Momma or Honeymoon, or Pappy are still alive. I find myself teary, I find myself laughing, and continuously I am reminiscing about my own childhood.
A couple of devices Yolanda uses are fantastic. They come up most as interludes and they are so funny, yet so relevant and revelatory. The story wouldn't be the same without them. Honeymoon's and Yolanda's trick on her daddy are uproarious! The shallow water chapter is a masterpiece. Yolanda uses a stunning juxtaposition of her near-drowning and a recent family tragedy. It is wonderfully effective and is presented exceptionally well. The phone call of Shirley to Honeymoon, the anticipation, the total shock upon learning of the outcome, and because Yolanda has helped us to really know the characters, the true emotional outpouring on the part of the reader all attest to the artistry present here.
Ms. Young has very good scenery description and very vivid and imagination-awakening description of neighborhoods. There is good evocation of childhood feelings and reactions.
ON OUR WAY TO BEAUTIFUL is so genuinely spiritual and so genuinely human. I pray Yolanda stays true to who she is so that she will blossom in the Lord. She has a muse! It is a gift from God. I can't wait to read her fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.C. Wallington on July 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Reading this book was like taking a trip down Memory Lane. Ms Young tells her story of growing up in Louisiana. She learns life lessons at the feet of her great grandmother, Big Momma, at the table with her grandmother, Honeymoon, and through encounters with her own mother. The author takes each lesson learned and tells a related story that pertains to her childhood. We watch as Yolanda grows up and makes some mistakes such as buying $500 worth of designer clothes to fit in with her classmates. She learns about following her dreams and not letting dreams die. She learns the value of family as she sees her family stick together through all kinds of adversities.
Often times when a not so famous person write their memoirs, I wonder why they think their story needs to be told. In this memoir, I think the author gives just enough information to make a person look back and reflect on their life and see how life lessons help shape who they are as adults. This book brought a lot of memories as I can relate to many of the same experiences in one way or another. I can remember Sunday evenings in Bible Training Union, going skating after church on Sundays, singing in the youth choir. The difficulty of trying to fit in with the other children at school, and still trying to maintain your strong Christian values and upbringing. Most of all I can remember conversations with my grandmothers and mother that I credit for shaping my life.
This is a wonderful quick enjoyable read and highly recommended!
Jeanette Wallington
APOOO BookClub
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