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On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library

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“When you look over your own library, who do you see?” Since founding the beloved Well-Read Black Girl book club in 2015, Glory Edim has emerged as a literary tastemaker for a new generation. Continuing her life’s work to brighten and enrich American reading lives through the work of legendary Black authors, she now launches her Well-Read Black Girl Library Series with On G “When you look over your own library, who do you see?” Since founding the beloved Well-Read Black Girl book club in 2015, Glory Edim has emerged as a literary tastemaker for a new generation. Continuing her life’s work to brighten and enrich American reading lives through the work of legendary Black authors, she now launches her Well-Read Black Girl Library Series with On Girlhood. This meticulously selected anthology features a wide range of unique voices, finally illuminating a distinctly robust sector of contemporary literature: groundbreaking short stories that explore the thin yet imperative line between Black girlhood and womanhood. Divided into four themes—Innocence, Belonging, Love, and Self-Discovery—the unforgettable young protagonists within contend with the trials of coming of age that shape who they are and what they will become. With this tradition in mind, Innocence opens with Jamaica Kincaid’s searing “Girl,” in which a mother offers fierce instructions to her impressionable daughter. This deceptively simple yet profound monologue is followed by Toni Morrison’s first and only published short story, the now-canonical “Recitatif,” about two neglected girls who come together in youth only to find themselves on opposite picket lines in adulthood. In Belonging, Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” follows rambunctious students on a field trip where they are exposed to a new world of luxury. In Love, Dana Johnson’s “Melvin in the Sixth Grade” captures the yearning of a lovesick teen smitten with the only boy who looks her way. And in Self-Discovery, Edwidge Danticat’s “Seeing Things Simply” charts the creative awakening of Princesse, a young woman with a hunger to be fully seen. These inspiring tales of world builders and rule breakers conclude with Zora Neale Hurston’s “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” a personal essay brimming with wit and strength: “When covered by the waters, I am; and the ebb but reveals me again.” At times heartbreaking and at times hilarious, these stories boldly push past flat stereotypes and powerfully convey the beauty of Black girlhood. In bringing together an array of influential authors—past and present—whose work remains timeless, Glory Edim has created an indispensable compendium for every home library and a soul-stirring guide to coming of age. Featuring stories by Jamaica Kincaid, Toni Morrison, Dorothy West, Rita Dove, Camille Acker, Toni Cade Bambara, Amina Gautier, Alexia Arthurs, Dana Johnson, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Edwidge Danticat, Shay Youngblood, Paule Marshall, and Zora Neale Hurston.


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“When you look over your own library, who do you see?” Since founding the beloved Well-Read Black Girl book club in 2015, Glory Edim has emerged as a literary tastemaker for a new generation. Continuing her life’s work to brighten and enrich American reading lives through the work of legendary Black authors, she now launches her Well-Read Black Girl Library Series with On G “When you look over your own library, who do you see?” Since founding the beloved Well-Read Black Girl book club in 2015, Glory Edim has emerged as a literary tastemaker for a new generation. Continuing her life’s work to brighten and enrich American reading lives through the work of legendary Black authors, she now launches her Well-Read Black Girl Library Series with On Girlhood. This meticulously selected anthology features a wide range of unique voices, finally illuminating a distinctly robust sector of contemporary literature: groundbreaking short stories that explore the thin yet imperative line between Black girlhood and womanhood. Divided into four themes—Innocence, Belonging, Love, and Self-Discovery—the unforgettable young protagonists within contend with the trials of coming of age that shape who they are and what they will become. With this tradition in mind, Innocence opens with Jamaica Kincaid’s searing “Girl,” in which a mother offers fierce instructions to her impressionable daughter. This deceptively simple yet profound monologue is followed by Toni Morrison’s first and only published short story, the now-canonical “Recitatif,” about two neglected girls who come together in youth only to find themselves on opposite picket lines in adulthood. In Belonging, Toni Cade Bambara’s “The Lesson” follows rambunctious students on a field trip where they are exposed to a new world of luxury. In Love, Dana Johnson’s “Melvin in the Sixth Grade” captures the yearning of a lovesick teen smitten with the only boy who looks her way. And in Self-Discovery, Edwidge Danticat’s “Seeing Things Simply” charts the creative awakening of Princesse, a young woman with a hunger to be fully seen. These inspiring tales of world builders and rule breakers conclude with Zora Neale Hurston’s “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” a personal essay brimming with wit and strength: “When covered by the waters, I am; and the ebb but reveals me again.” At times heartbreaking and at times hilarious, these stories boldly push past flat stereotypes and powerfully convey the beauty of Black girlhood. In bringing together an array of influential authors—past and present—whose work remains timeless, Glory Edim has created an indispensable compendium for every home library and a soul-stirring guide to coming of age. Featuring stories by Jamaica Kincaid, Toni Morrison, Dorothy West, Rita Dove, Camille Acker, Toni Cade Bambara, Amina Gautier, Alexia Arthurs, Dana Johnson, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Edwidge Danticat, Shay Youngblood, Paule Marshall, and Zora Neale Hurston.

30 review for On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    “For Black girls, now and always All those books—another world—just waiting At my fingertips.” - Nikki Giovanni “My First Memory (of Librarians)” _________ ✨ Back in July, I received an ARC from WW Norton and I knew I wanted to read it before the book came out this month. First off, the collection of stories is beautifully curated. “15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library” captivated me from beginning to end. Highlighting authors such as Edwidge Danticat, Amina Gautier, Dorothy West, and mor “For Black girls, now and always All those books—another world—just waiting At my fingertips.” - Nikki Giovanni “My First Memory (of Librarians)” _________ ✨ Back in July, I received an ARC from WW Norton and I knew I wanted to read it before the book came out this month. First off, the collection of stories is beautifully curated. “15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library” captivated me from beginning to end. Highlighting authors such as Edwidge Danticat, Amina Gautier, Dorothy West, and more - this collection of stories displayed the voices of young Black characters and their joy, belonging, love, and self-discovery. Before reading this collection - I had not heard of many of these authors. But especially after reading “The Richer, The Poorer” by Dorothy West (my favorite in the book), I am looking forward to reading more by these authors. The author brilliantly tells a story through her curation, highlighting a fraction of a piece of what the world was, and/or currently is, for Black folks. Edim has a few other books that I quickly added to my TBR and look forward to eventually reading. Incredible work. For me, it lost a star because some of the stories, due to their age or story location, were difficult to get through for me. Some of them just didn't captivate me as much as others. ✨ You’ll love this book if you like: - Realistic Fiction. - Own-Voices Novels. - Collections of Short Stories. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dre

    As a fan and follower of Glory Edim's collective, Well Read Black Girl, I knew I had to get my hands on this ARC as soon as it became available. Reading her first book (of the same name) was such a refreshing experience, as it described my journey finding characters that looked like me in the literature I devoured. Now, with On Girlhood, I felt similar feelings as I ran through these stories-- a few of which I had read before. On Girlhood is the perfect collection for the black woman who reads f As a fan and follower of Glory Edim's collective, Well Read Black Girl, I knew I had to get my hands on this ARC as soon as it became available. Reading her first book (of the same name) was such a refreshing experience, as it described my journey finding characters that looked like me in the literature I devoured. Now, with On Girlhood, I felt similar feelings as I ran through these stories-- a few of which I had read before. On Girlhood is the perfect collection for the black woman who reads far and wide, searching for her likeness in stories. I wish I would have had this book growing up! So often I've enjoyed coming-of-age tales, yet longed to meet a main character that looked like me within the pages.. On Girlhood curates some of my favorite stories by authors such as Toni Morrison, Dorothy West, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alice Walker. Divided into four sections- Innocence, Belonging, Love, and Self-Discovery, On Girlhood beautifully delivers black women's experiences in a way I appreciate so much. Reading each story has been a most amazing gift to me. It reminds me of all the stories I've collected and held close to my chest. Stories I saw my mother and grandmothers in. Stories I saw myself in. Stories I now share because I see my daughter and nieces in. If you get the chance, I implore you to please read this book and grab a few copies for other women you love-- especially the ones who appreciate a good story. Thank you to Netgalley for the eARC of On Girlhood by Glory Edim in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tita Berrios

    This meticulously selected anthology features a wide range of unique voices, finally illuminating a distinctly robust sector of contemporary literature: groundbreaking fifteen short stories that explore the thin yet imperative line between Black girlhood and womanhood. Divided into four themes, Innocence, Belonging, Love, and Self-Discovery, the unforgettable young protagonists within contend with the trials of coming of age that shape who they are and what they will become within due time. Thoug This meticulously selected anthology features a wide range of unique voices, finally illuminating a distinctly robust sector of contemporary literature: groundbreaking fifteen short stories that explore the thin yet imperative line between Black girlhood and womanhood. Divided into four themes, Innocence, Belonging, Love, and Self-Discovery, the unforgettable young protagonists within contend with the trials of coming of age that shape who they are and what they will become within due time. Though heartbreaking at times and witty, these short stories boldly push past flat stereotypes and powerfully convey the beauty of Black girlhood. In bringing together an array of influential authors past and present, whose work remains timeless, author Glory Edim has created an indispensable compendium for every home library and a soul, stirring guide to coming of age. Indeed worth the read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    By far my favorite story was Melvin in the Sixth Grade by Dana Johnson, which completely broke my heart. It's about a girl named Avery who was also the main character in Johnson's novel Elsewhere, California, which I loved. Apparently there is another Avery story in Johnson's short story collection Break Any Woman Down, so that is now on my list. I also especially liked Recitatif by Toni Morrison and The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara. By far my favorite story was Melvin in the Sixth Grade by Dana Johnson, which completely broke my heart. It's about a girl named Avery who was also the main character in Johnson's novel Elsewhere, California, which I loved. Apparently there is another Avery story in Johnson's short story collection Break Any Woman Down, so that is now on my list. I also especially liked Recitatif by Toni Morrison and The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carmensutra

    An excellently curated short story collection that reflects upon Black girlhood. I had no idea Toni Morrison had written a short story and it had all the intonations and character development of Sula in just a few short pages. Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is a new favorite short story. Add this one to your library!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marinn

    For full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book. This is an excellent collection of short stories from well-known Black women as well as lesser known contemporary authors. An added bonus are the discussion questions for each story - making it a perfect book club selection!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    I liked some stories better than others, but overall this wasn’t my favorite collection of essays.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diana Perez

    15 stories that are must reads!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elysa

    The story choices and organization of this book are excellent. I can't recommend this collection enough. The story choices and organization of this book are excellent. I can't recommend this collection enough.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linda Odum

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dessie Kowalewski

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Huff

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Piselli

  15. 4 out of 5

    K4FIA

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carly Friedman

  17. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Hayes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Grace Longman

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liza Greenwood

  20. 5 out of 5

    Liveright Publishing

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amber

  22. 4 out of 5

    Isley Forrester

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mamiza

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Twenter

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Meinzer

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carmen-louise

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maria MacNamara

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cara

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

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