Mama: A Novel

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A “funny [and] touching” novel of an African American woman determined to triumph, by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Waiting to Exhale (Detroit Free Press).
 
Mildred Peacock is fed up with poverty—and with the jealous rampages of her husband, Crook. When Crook runs over her foot with his ’59 Mercury, she finally kicks him out to raise her five kids on her own.
 
Resourceful and sly, sassy and sexy, she’s willing to do just about anything to pay the bills. But she loses job after job, and one man after another, until alcohol and pills are her only comfort. But as long as her children need her, she has no intention of giving up, in this “tough novel about a tough family,” from the author of Disappearing Acts and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (The New Yorker).
 
“Earthy, realistic characters who can walk out of the pages and onto the streets of black America . . . an admirable novel.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A touching tale of one mother’s unwavering strength.” —Detroit Monthly
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Jan 16, 1987
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Pages
260
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ISBN
9780547524047
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / African American / Women
Fiction / Family Life / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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“Nowhere Is a Place is a powerful portrait of family secrets, damage, and healing, probing deep below the surface of an African American family’s history to mend present day relationships . . . Ms. McFadden has a beautiful writing style that is simultaneously lyrical and transparent. In parts of the narrative, time seems to stand still as she describes an event in riveting minute to minute detail. Other times she employs a kind of poetic shorthand that condenses long periods of time, years even, into a few sentences.”
--New York Journal of Books

"An engrossing multigenerational saga . . . With her deep engagement in the material and her brisk but lyrical prose, McFadden creates a poignant epic of resiliency, bringing Sherry to a well-earned awareness of her place atop the shoulders of her ancestors, those who survived so that she might one day, too."
--Publishers Weekly

"Telling her story from two perspectives and on two levels--the mother-daughter relationship and Sherry's fictional account--McFadden brings added texture to this story of reconciliation."
--Booklist

“A poignant tale of self-discovery in the face of a complicated family history.”
--Brooklyn Daily Eagle

"Bernice L. McFadden’s Nowhere Is a Place is a hauntingly-disturbing and redemptive frame story of many generations of a Yamasee Native-American and African-American family from pre-slavery times until July 1995."
--Bowling Green Daily News

"With a good dose of poignancy about life and finding the wisdom of the world for ourselves, Nowhere is a Place is a fine addition to modern literary fiction collections."
--The Midwest Book Review

"Compelling, beautifully written, and profoundly human, McFadden has conjured a tale of a fractured family who journey across the country and back through history to unearth painful truths that unexpectedly reshape their relationships with each other."
--Lynn Nottage, playwright, author of Intimate Apparel

Nothing can mend a broken heart quite like family. Sherry has struggled all her life to understand who she is, where she comes from, and, most important, why her mother slapped her cheek one summer afternoon. The incident has haunted Sherry, and it causes her to dig into her family's past. Like many family histories, it is fractured and stubbornly reluctant to reveal its secrets; but Sherry is determined to know the full story. In just a few days' time, her extended family will gather for a reunion, and Sherry sets off across the country with her mother, Dumpling, to join them. What Sherry and Dumpling find on their trip is far more important than scenic sites here and there--it is the assorted pieces of their family's past. Pulled together, they reveal a history of amazing survival and abundant joy.

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of eight critically acclaimed novels including the classic Sugar, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors' Choice), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honor awards from the BCALA. Her sophomore novel, The Warmest December, was praised by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison as "searing and expertly imagined." McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“A wonderful, jazzy, exciting read.”
–Nikki Giovanni, author of Acolytes

Broke and burned-out from grad school, Shay Dixon does the unthinkable after receiving a “vision” from her de facto spiritual adviser, blues singer Nina Simone. She phones Nona, the mother she had all but written off, asking if she can come home for a while.

When Shay was growing up, Nona was either drunk, hungover, or out with her latest low-life guy. So Shay barely recognizes the new Nona, now sober and with a positive outlook on life, a love of gardening, and a toddler named Sunny. Though reconciliation seems a hard proposition for Shay, something unmistakable is taking root inside her, waiting to blossom like the morning glories opening up in Nona’s garden sanctuary.

Soon Shay finds herself facing exciting possibilities and even her first real romantic relationship. But when an unexpected crisis hits, even the wise words and soulful melodies of Nina Simone may not be enough for solace. Shay begins to realize that, like orange mint and honey, sometimes life tastes better when bitter is followed by sweet.


“Carleen Brice has woven her talent for storytelling into a funny, sad, and perceptive novel that speaks to all of us who navigate less-than-perfect relationships with our parents or children.”
–Elyse Singleton, author of This Side of the Sky

“Brice deftly shows the importance and joy of understanding our past and not only forgiving those who hurt us, but loving them in spite of that hurt. Readers of Terry McMillan and Bebe Moore Campbell will find a new writer to watch.”
–Judy Merrill Larsen, author of All the Numbers


From the Trade Paperback edition.
The tremendous universal appeal of Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale took the book world by storm. With her third novel finally earning her the recognition and respect she richly deserved, Terry McMillan followed up with How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which continued to attract new and loyal fans from all walks of life. In this critical work Richards places these inspirational works, as well as McMillan's earlier writings, in their deserved cultural and literary context. Richards offers an insightful analysis of McMillan's narrative technique, which, while having roots in the blues aesthetic, has created a voice that sings out to readers across the lines of sex and race. McMillan's stories are inhabited by strong, dynamic African American women, yet these characters have universal lessons of life and love to share with all readers who appreciate good fiction.

A richly drawn biographical chapter examines the life of McMillan and the influences her own personal experiences have exerted on her writings. In the following chapter, Richards discusses McMillan's place in the literary tradition in which such writers as Zora Neale Hurston paved the way and inspired McMillan to write realistic, yet humorous accounts of the African American romantic experience. Richards devotes a chapter to each of McMillan's first four novels; Mama (1987), Disappearing Acts (1989), Waiting to Exhale (1992), and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1996). She discusses each novel in terms of plot, narrative style, character development, thematic issues, historical and cultural context, and alternative critical perspective. The comprehensive bibliography, including a list of reviews and index, covers the movie adaptations as well as the books.

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