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Sweet Summer: Growing up with and without My Dad Paperback – June 1, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This insightful tribute to fathers--biological and stand-in--and mothers is told in a series of reminiscences of black writer Campbell's ( Successful Women, Angry Men ) childhood, which she spent with each of her divorced parents in turn: her mother in Philadelphia and her father, a paraplegic, in rural North Carolina. Campbell's narrative skillfully weaves childhood and adult voices together, showing a healthy respect for the cadences of black English. Her focus is on her changing view of her father as she grows from childhood to adolescence; once a loving but absentee god-like figure, he comes to seem a mortal and flawed human with whom she achieves a loving and mature relationship ("the best part of my father, the jewel stuck deep inside his core, was determination"). She writes of the transition with the poignant longing of a child and the knowledge of an adult. The book also concerns coming of age black in the civil rights era: summers spent in a South where signs for "colored" were common and winters in Philadelphia, where Campbell's mother "was absolutely savage about enunciation, pronunciation, speaking co-rrectly, so that they would approve."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Describing her childhood in Philadelphia, Campbell gives lie to the stereotypes of black single-parent families. She draws upon her fond memories of a father who was absent but never abandoned her, although she only saw him in the summer. She writes lovingly of her mother and grandmother, who encouraged her every endeavor, providing her with love, support, and the desire to succeed. Most particularly she portrays the rich, multilayered black community--aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors, teachers and clergy--whose warmth, protection, and love gave her the foundation to become the exceptional adult she is. Affectionate, yet honest, this book by a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts and Literature grant is a true celebration of an American childhood.
- Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425174743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425174746
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,907,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
Once in a great while - about as often as Halley's Comet - a book comes along which stirs the soul and rattles your heart; a book which can transcend race, gender, age, place and time. This is such a book. Moore-Campbell is a magnificent writer; her verses poetic, her theme universal. Her autobiogrophy tells the story of growing up black and young without a full-time father, and the affects it can have on a child. It's not just her story; she shares this life with her cousin Michael (again, young and black without a full-time father), their Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, and assorted 'father figures': Dads, Uncles, Reverands, Neighbors. One child (BeBe) can learn to adapt graciously, while the other (Michael) has a tougher time, as they each learn difficult 'truths' about their patriarchy. Beautifully written, the reader hangs on every word, as this wonderful story unfolds.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book years ago when it first came out and I thought it was a wonderful portrayal of a daughter's love for her father. In the wake of Terry McMillan's "male-bashing" novel, "Waiting to Exhale," this book reaffirmed what Black women and men have been saying for years: "There are good Black men." Campbell's father and circle of uncles reminds me of the men in my family when I was growing up. I hope we see more "Growing up..." books in novel form instead of McMillan's "can't find a man" genre.
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Format: Paperback
I read Sweet Summer for my English class and to my surprise enjoyed reading the childhood story of Bebe Moore Campbell. Although some English books may become tedious this biography kept my attention all 255 pages. I think the most enjoyable part of the book was it was so easy to relate to. I understood her second home in South Carolina and why it was so special visiting there. I too have a place I love to visit because it holds memories and people I love. Also this book discussed powerful topics that anyone can either relate to or imagine what it may be like. For Campbell growing up as an African American child gave her many experiences that other children my not encounter. Reading this really made me think about how people from a different race or even society may be treated just because of where they come from. As this book discussed not only race it also brought up the kids that grow up without one of their parent figures. Campbell shows two different ways that growing up without a father or mother can transform a child. As I read about Bebe's cousin, Michael, and how he had a lot of trouble with growing up without a father I couldn't help but feel upset that just because of his bad experience with his father changed his life completely around. These powerful subjects really add to the story's depth and insight. Although this book can be for anyone I would recommend it for younger teens because it really explains the process of growing up and how influential a childhood can have on the rest of their lives. Campbell really did a great job explaining growing up and controversial subjects that many people can relate to.
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By Ms. 90 on December 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Campbell does a fantastic job recounting her childhood memories of growing up in Philadelphia with her mother and grandmother and spending her summers in Elizabeth City, North Carolina with her father. As Campbell ages, she yearns to have her father and mother in a traditional living situation, but learns to cope with life as it is. She also learns things about her father's past that have a negative affect on their relationsip, but she soon figures out how to let the past be the past and love her father for the man that he is.

Having been raised in the south, the chapters about Campbell's North Carolina summers really struck a chord with me. Her paternal grandmother reminded me so much of my own - the passage about the chickens was dead on! Campbell also celebrates the other men in her life, her uncles and neighbors, and shares her warm and touching memories of these relationships.

A positive and uplifting story that shows just how influential and beneficial men are in young girl's lives. 4 stars!
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By A Customer on February 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Bebe, Bebe, Bebe......Moore Campbelll, her father's wonderful greeting. This is a great book, easily read and thought provoking content. Though I'm a man and grew up with both of my parents, Ms. Campbell was able to relate to me in her writing. It's clear, real, and a joy to read. In fact, I like all Ms. Campbell's books and can't wait for the next one. Hurry up, Bebe.!!!
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Format: Paperback
I decided to try "Sweet Summer" in the midst of my sweet summer this year. I found the book in a bookstore in Nassau, Bahamas, and remembering her "Your Blues Ain't Like Mine" picked it up without hesitation.

What a great read. The woman had a fluid way of writing in a crystal-clear fashion. It is a book about family dynamics, a girl and her father, that girl and her mother, and aunts. As she reaches a new pinnacle, a new threshold, the reader is gently guided into the next chapter of that relationship. The characters are those who populate our lives, with their giftedness and foibles. Don't judge the book by the title, because Campbell was able to describe relationships with great depth.

She left us too soon, a few years ago, in the prime of life. I will keep on reading her work, though, because I love her clarity.
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