From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up?This well-written biography brings its subject to life by successfully capturing that unique spark that makes Hansberry noteworthy and interesting. Writing in an engaging style, the McKissacks follow the woman's life chronologically. The daughter of influential, black upper-class parents, her early childhood in Chicago was studded with visits from African-American notables, such as W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, and Duke Ellington. However, from an early age, she identified with those of her race who suffered the effects of poverty and discrimination. After she left college prematurely, she moved to New York where her writing career began in earnest. Throughout her life she was dedicated to the cause of civil rights and made her unique mark as a writer, a speaker, and an activist. This biography is divided into three long chapters, each covering a specific period of Hansberry's life. The text has been researched extensively and is well documented. It includes several references to telephone interviews with Hansberry's older sister Mamie and excerpts from the playwright's personal journal. The black-and-white photographs are well reproduced and do a fine job of supplementing the text. A time line and index are helpful reference aids. Whatever their purpose for using this volume, readers will find it lively and engaging.?Marilyn Heath, Greenwood High School, SC
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 8^-12. Hansberry once noted that she was sent to kindergarten on Chicago's South Side too well dressed for the Depression years. "The kids beat me up; and I think it was from that moment I became a rebel." The youngest child of successful, politically involved parents who encouraged their children to succeed, Hansberry grew up in a spirited, intellectual atmosphere in which the likes of Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, and others were entertained in her home. From an early age, she was aware of the tensions of racism that divided American society. Her father was party to a major Supreme Court case, Hansberry
which invalidated a racially restrictive housing covenant. She studied briefly at the University of Wisconsin but left for the livelier confines of New York City in the early 1950s, where she wrote for Freedom
, a monthly commentary founded by Robeson. She married Robert Nemiroff and began to write the play that became A Raisin in the Sun
, and that work, of course, went on to make dramatic history. The McKissacks' biography sparkles with the energy and passion that characterize their subject. Readers can drink in the whole civil rights history of much of this century and an in-depth treatment of Hansberry's major play, along with her fascinating life, which cancer ended prematurely in 1965. The playwright's sister, Mamie, provides abundant material for this highly recommended biography. Bibliography; time line. Anne O'Malley