From Publishers Weekly
Although American culture is heavy with sexual images and suggestion, honest dialogue about sex and its effects can be rare. According to Rose, an American studies professor at U.C.-Santa Cruz, this is especially true for black women, who are most often seen only in stereotypical roles (e.g., welfare mothers, voracious sexual playthings). Yet, she posits, sexuality and intimacy are an enormous part of black women's lives. Rather than use interview snippets to underscore her points, the author presents a collection of oral histories told by 20 women who describe their lives in rich, sometimes startling, detail. The format works well, and Rose steps in only occasionally, at section breaks, to point out the intersections and divergences readers might miss. The tales are heartbreaking, inspiring and brutally honest on topics like AIDS, domestic abuse, race, sexism and erotic adventures. Although the speakers' stories traverse a wide range of experiences, each one chronicles the pain and hard-won triumphs of trying to be a black woman in a society they often find cold and hostile. They speak out on their treatment by and attitudes toward black men in a way that is far removed from the popular fiction that they supposedly identify with. By letting the women speak for themselves and following the histories with a passionate afterword, Rose provides a collection that is as compelling as it is sorely needed.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Rose, professor of African American history, interviewed hundreds of black women in the course of her research for a scholarly book on black women's sexuality, then came to the realization that the women's voices deserved book space of their own. The result is a collection of 20 first-person narratives from a cross section of black women speaking frankly about a range of topics, such as coming-of-age, sexual abuse, drug addiction, marriage, divorce, AIDS, and interracial dating. Rose provides the broader context of social, racial, and gender issues, including concerns about perpetuating the stereotypes of black men and women as sexual animals and American standards of beauty that often exclude black women. The women themselves speak candidly in their powerful--sometimes painful, sometimes amusing--portraits: Diane, a 32-year-old wife with two children who has never learned to trust men; Rita, a 26-year-old more attracted to white men than black; Linda Rae, a 48-year-old former prostitute and drug addict who is HIV-positive. Readers interested in race and gender issues will appreciate this revealing book. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved