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What You Owe Me
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What You Owe Me

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,687 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
Sweeping across fifty years of family, friendship, betrayal, and reconciliation, this is Bebe Moore Campbell's most ambitious achievement yet.
Paperback, 544 pages
Published September 3rd 2002 by Berkley (first published 2001)
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Talithia I like her style of writing. She tells a good story. You want to know how things turn out because she will develop her characters and weave their…moreI like her style of writing. She tells a good story. You want to know how things turn out because she will develop her characters and weave their lives around your mind. Making you want to know them...or Not know them! Every book is so different from the next. So it makes you want to read them all. The subject matter sometimes might shock you.... only to pull you deeper in the life's of her characters and the world they live in...enjoy!(less)

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E.N. Joy
Aug 25, 2013 E.N. Joy rated it really liked it
In my opinion, the late great Bebe Moore Campbell was the best at historical fiction. I'm thinking the say way readers prejudge what I write--Christian fiction--as being boring, I once prejudged historical fiction as being boring. But then I read this! Rest in peace, Mrs. Campbell; the legacy of your written words live on.
Jan 31, 2008 Rebecca rated it liked it
Recommended to Rebecca by: Katie
Shelves: fiction, read2008
Wow, this book was so absurdly and comprehensively heartwarming! The whole goshdarn cast of white and black characters successfully work through every one of their issues with racial identity / abandoning or overbearing mommies and daddies / generational grudges / discrimination and privilege. Wouldn't you know, trading in the past for redemption and forgiveness isn't just good for the soul, it's apparently the secret to luck in love and money! Fade to inspiring multicultural dance scene. No, re ...more
Naeemah Huggins
May 13, 2013 Naeemah Huggins rated it really liked it
Good, One of those nice long in-depth ones with love and business and family all rolled in. Its been a while since I read it at the suggestion of a friend.
Aug 04, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I really enjoyed this book, my first by Campbell. I read it as part of a book club selection, and it just cements how amazing book clubs can be - as I'm sure I would have never chosen this book on my own.

The prevalent themes throughout this book were very well crafted, if but a bit predictable. The characters seemed natural, well rounded, and possessed a spirit that was very uplifting. The written style was detailed well; I felt able to understand what was being explained but it was not weighed
Apr 22, 2012 Manisha rated it liked it
Story of two women, one black, one Jewess, living in LA right after WWII. They become cautious then close friends, until circumstances set them up for betrayal. We fast forward to present day and follow the story as the consequences of that betrayal play out. Interesting characters, intriguing story.
L Neal
Jul 15, 2013 L Neal rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I read it a few years ago but it is still fresh in my mind. I typically do not read period pieces but this was not your typical period style book. I truly enjoyed it. It's one of those books that will stay with you for years to come.
Oct 02, 2007 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hesitant to pick up this book. When I read it, I was just starting to pick up different genres. My typical read was chick lit or thrillers. This book was amazing.

I really enjoyed it and I loved the plot. I felt the characters were very engaging. A definite read!
Feb 18, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, own-a-copy
The story of an African American woman and a German woman - a Holocaust survivor - who go into the cosmetic business together.
Oct 18, 2008 jo rated it it was ok
Shelves: african-american
bebe moore campbell, it seems to me, has written better books that this.
Michele Wesley
Apr 17, 2015 Michele Wesley rated it really liked it
This book covered a very long time span, but it bridged the gaps smartly and intriguing enough to keep me reading. I loved it. This is a Great Read!
Nov 28, 2007 Tina rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
Before I read this book, I thought it would be a very straightforward tale of betrayal, revenge and reparation. In some sense, it is just that. But there are so many other things going on in this book that I think the main story gets lost somewhere.

The first 11 chapters of this book is a fairly tight and riveting story of Hosanna and Gilda's relationship. We hear the story of Hosanna and Gilda in Hosanna's first-person narration. It is post WWII L.A. Black people have not prospered the way they
Shara Hughes
Great book!!!!!
Aug 25, 2009 Marca rated it really liked it
An unlikely friendship forms between two hotel maids in 1940’s California. Hosanna Clark, an African American woman befriends Gilda a Jewish immigrant who survived the Holocaust. Together they start a small cosmetics company, working around their maids jobs making and selling lotions to co-workers and church members. Just as they were on the verge of leaving their maids jobs and going full-time with the cosmetics, Gilda bolts, taking all their savings. Fast forward fifty years and we find Hosann ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Karenshaff rated it it was amazing
Wow, once again a story well told! The character development and depth of friendships portrayed make the people seem very real like I know them personally! The story is about the friendship between a poor black girl from the south who makes her way to Los Angeles after her father's southern farm is taken by a wealthy mogul. She works as a chamber maid in a hotel with a bunch of other black girls. One day a non-black, non-English speaking girl (Jewish, Polish speaking) arrives to work there too a ...more
Feb 26, 2016 Gerry rated it liked it
Much longer, and not as well-written, as Campbell’s previous books – this one could have benefited from a lot more editing. Too many characters and sub-plots, but none of them sufficiently developed. The basic story focuses on the daughter of a black woman, Hosanna, who helped Gilda, a Jewish immigrant, start up a cosmetics company in the late ‘40’s. But Gilda disappears, leaving Hosanna with a worthless bankbook for a cleared-out account, and Hosanna’s ambition and her desire for revenge become ...more
Nov 23, 2015 Janene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of ALL TIME. Campbell was a master storyteller, and this book is the epitome of her talent. "What You Owe Me" starts with the tale of two hotel maids -- one black and one a recent Holocaust survivor -- who find friendship, business and ultimately, betrayal. It turns into a journey transcending a generation. Full of plot twists and dynamic scenery, this is definitely a page turner.

I find myself rereading this often, because the characters are so intriguing and sta
Debbie Williamson
Jan 13, 2014 Debbie Williamson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Yes
Campbell writes beautifully. I was captured instantly as if I were there in her story, watching. I love her books and this one is no let down. I loved the characters, even the ones I hated. Bebe takes you back in time where racism was a way of life. I felt the pain and lived through the experiences with her characters. The story of revenge after death is not something I believe in, but this book makes it not only believable but fun. I was left wondering how much of the story is based on truths. ...more
Aug 25, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it
There were several characters in this book and so much of the first half was all a set-up, an introduction to these multiple characters. They did all tie-in together for the second half and there really were some characters that I truly loved, they just cracked me up. I'm very visual so I could just imagine the conversations that were taking place. I would love to see this made into a movie! There were a few surprising moments; most of my choices are usually very G-Rated, but nothing was ever de ...more
Ashley Teagle
Mar 30, 2014 Ashley Teagle rated it it was ok
I have read other work by Bebe Moore Campbell, so I was prepared to love this novel. Unfortunately, I thought it rambled on and on and on. The book starts out with Gilda, a Holocaust survivor, and Hosanna, a black maid, working together cleaning rooms. Eventually, Hosanna dies in obscurity while Gilda rises to the top of the cosmetic industry.

I would have loved for this book to have been about Gilda and Hosanna, but it felt like every chapter a new character (and their accompanying conflict) was
Mahoghani 23
Aug 16, 2014 Mahoghani 23 rated it liked it
This book brought back memories of the mistreatment received by all. Two women from different backgrounds, black & Jewish become friends during a time when friendships like that were not feasible. During this friendship, they start a successful business. The Jewish woman gets married and her husband and uncle take the money the two women have earned and for years the black woman struggles to figure out why. Years later the black woman's daughter goes to work for the Jewish woman and the real ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Ellen rated it really liked it
With a huge cast of characters spanning four generations in two particular families the author wove a coherent, warm, and informative fabric from the personal narratives of the characters. This was a book I couldn't put down. From Jim Crowe in the Southern US, the Shoah and survivors post WWII, touching on themes of access, betrayal, life with physical and emotional wounds, forgiveness, grief, friendship, ethics and even the afterlife..........
This was a book for me that was hard to leave when i
Mar 16, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like to read books written by Black women, to see how their lifestyles and points of view and even writing style compares to that of White women. There's definitely a different voice, and this book was an enjoyable peek into that world, because it spanned several years and dealt with the longtime friendship between a Black woman and a Jewish woman, which began in the 1940's or 50's (It has been four years since I read this book) and the betrayal that separated them.
Feb 01, 2016 AKeys rated it it was amazing
"What You Owe Me" is hands down one of the best novels that I've read in a long while. Ms. Campbell's story telling is engrossing and captivating. Her ability to effortlessly switch from one time period to another isn't done in a disruptive manner which makes for a smooth transition. Both the characters of Hosanna & Gilda were flawed, yet relatable and likable. The entire ensemble of characters each leave their own indelible mark throughout the novel. This novel was absolutely worth the read ...more
Jul 15, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this multi-generational story about two women, one African-American and the other Jewish who were friends and then not due to the circumstances of living in LA in the 30's and 40's and how the experiences of race, and gender, not to mention socio-economics effected the women, their children and their children's children.

Moore dealt with a lot of issues without being heavy handed and with lots of humor and insight.

Good read!
Mar 01, 2011 Tonya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this quite a while ago. Well written and intriguing. The way the friendship between the two women before the war and the sense of betrayal that followed was captivating. Trying to recall if Gilda really didn't realize how Hosanna had consequences to face after Gilda's actions back then or not - and if she really could have changed the outcome for Hosanna. I've gotta check my shelf again...
Tamika Moore
Aug 05, 2011 Tamika Moore rated it really liked it
This book was wonderful. I true tale of retribution, bringing closure to a vendetta that surpassed death. This book was a social peek into the past lives of a southern black woman and a holocaust survivor going into business during a time when black-white relations were not too common, and the hardship that betrayal can imprint in loved ones lives.
Lawrence Tuck
Jul 28, 2011 Lawrence Tuck rated it really liked it
a very poignant, touching novel. It was sad how the prejudice of a few people kept 2 friends from accomplishing the dream they set out to do together. Learned a few things about the history of my own people as well.
Dec 18, 2012 Sonya rated it really liked it
One of my favorite authors -I loved the way she thought about and talked about race relations in America. I wish she could have lived long enough to discuss race relations and the election of President Obama.
Aug 14, 2007 Shawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a total chick book that I still got into (that's how good it is). It's long, and it has a lot of characters, but it intertwines them very well. It all comes together, sometimes predictably and sometimes not.
Jan 16, 2011 Angie rated it liked it
would have liked it more if i could have concentrated (family in town; days go by without reading). long, resolution came rather suddenly at the very end. but a good story. might read some of the author's other works.
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Bebe Moore Campbell (February 18, 1950 – November 27, 2006), was the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, and What You Owe Me, which was also a Los Angeles Times "Best Book of 2001". Her other works include the novel Your Blues Ain't Like Mine, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the winner of the NAACP Image Award for ...more
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