What You Owe Me
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What You Owe Me

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,044 ratings  ·  47 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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Feb 27, 2008 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
The story of an African American woman and a German woman - a Holocaust survivor - who go into the cosmetic business together.
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
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
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...more
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...more
Debbie Williamson
Feb 27, 2014 Debbie Williamson rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
Nat Boogie
Currently my favorite book ever!
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...more
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.
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!
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...
I'm having a hard time rating this book , for there were things I liked about it as well as some things I disliked. The author's writing was clean and clear which was the main reason why I rated the book 2 stars.The story is about racial issues and perfidy which I happen to have little interest in . However , I very much enjoyed the ending , and that's it.
Tamika Moore
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.
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
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.
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!
This one might start off a little slow but don't be fooled - it's a gem! Campbell is so descriptive and I loved the evolution of relationships in this story. It was also a bit of a tear jerker for me, which always is a sure sign of a great book, in my opinion.
Nazish Salahuddin
so well-written. captivating story. very rich. I think she might be my favoite author of all time--she is so incredibly gifted at writing in different voices, different eras, creating characters and stories with incredibly depth.
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.
Lawrence Tuck
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.
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.
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.
Sorry to say I only got through about 3/4 of the book before life got in the way of reading time. I did enjoy it, but now I'm on a bit of a cliff. I plan to pick it back up.
great book. very thought provoking. What would our world be like today if we hadn't had slavery? What if African American were simply immigrants ??????????????????
I remember this book having disturbing anti-semitic undertones, that bothered me because they had a ring of truth to them. That said, I remember it being a good book.
I found this at my office kitchen library. I have been reading popular fiction and really loving how these authors use these vehicles to tell our histories. I liked it.
Kathryn Bundy
This is a sprawling book that covers so many years and the intricately entwined lives of many characters. I greatly appreciated the voice and the pace of this book.
Edi Campbell
On OK read with a few too many characters and too many situations. I don't know why some of them weren't edited out!
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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
More about Bebe Moore Campbell...
Your Blues Ain't Like Mine Brothers and Sisters 72 Hour Hold Singing in the Comeback Choir Sweet Summer: Growing up with and without My Dad

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