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Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,565 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo is the story of three "colored girls," three sisters and their mama from Charleston, South Carolina: Sassafrass, the oldest, a poet and a weaver like her mother, gone north to college, living with other artists in Los Angeles and trying to weave a life out of her work, her man, her memories and dreams; Cypress, the dancer,who leaves home to f...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 15th 1996 by Picador (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

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Real Supergirl
"So Cypress learned to see other people as themselves, and not as threats to her person."

This line, and this novel, changed the way I conceptualize relationships. I'm still learning.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Three sisters grow up in South Carolina during the 1970s. The chapters are interspersed with letters from their mother, recipes, poetry, journal entries, etc. Black power and female power are common themes. Recommended by a fellow librarian.
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
I picked this book up as part of a Treasure Hunt challenge, to fit the category of "Titles containing any shade of purple". This is exactly what I was hoping to get from the challenge - the discovery of a great book that I otherwise would never have chosen for myself.

SC&I tells the story of three African-American sisters from the deep South, with the legacy of slavery still very much present in everything that surrounds them. Set in the 60s-80s, the story follows each sister as they grow fro...more
Caroline
Picking through the lives of 3 sisters and their mother in Charleston, South Carolina, the author has chosen to focus on a specific period in each of the three sisters. Their father has since passed so we don't get a good sense of the person he was. But it is through the sisters' stories that we see the woman who has guided and molded them, a mother's love and wisdom, and a mother who tries to keep their father involved for a little bit in their lives at Christmas she hides a gift for each daugh...more
Lizziepeps
I really didn't like it. Very disappointed. I liked the beginning with Indigo and then it went downhill. The rest of the novel focused more on Sassafrass and Cyprus. I most definatly won't be picking up one of Ms. Shange's novels again.
Tia
Oct 30, 2007 Tia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
This book was awesome. Not always what I expected. The book is vibrant with descriptions. I also got a kick out of the letters written by the mother, Hilda Effania. I think many of us know someone like that.
RenardeRouge
"Where there is a woman, there is magic." This is the opening sentence and one of the overarching themes of this powerful novel. Ntozake Shange shows five of many possible enchanting art forms - fibers, dancing, music, cooking and the white magic women of many cultures, races and ethnicities practice - that women around the world have been passing from one generation to the next for hundreds, probably thousands, of years. And she also reminds us that some men, men who were most likely raised (a...more
Amanda
I read this the summer I went to England. I must have bought a used copy (I am one of those people who packs enough books for this sort of trip to last until I can find a used book store or join the library.) to take with me.

Good book - and easier for me to enjoy than the poem/play for colored girls who have considered suicide, when the rainbow is enuf, because I have the sort of mind that likes straight forward narrative. I had to work a lot harder when I went to see the play to string all the...more
wordLife
Aug 23, 2007 wordLife rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: black women.
Shelves: contempocasual
this book is like a literary jambalaya: poetry, prose, recipes, drama. plus, i really like how she explores the different paths three artistic Southern-grown sisters take as they grow up. And sisterhood.
jessica
This is one of my most favorite books ever. This book transformed me. There's a passage about a flock of wild red birds that is forever stamped in my memory ...
Sonja
i wish it had focused on all the sisters stories equally but this is a really beautiful book. i love the way she writes!
Sassy
There is nothing that I can say that fully expresses how effing fantastic this book is. All the stars. Immediate re-read. And again and again. If I could I would read it everyday forever. I guess I can but that's obsessive. Obsessing will also ruin the magic of the writing. And the writing is magical.

I've been dying to read "something beautiful." This book is everything that I needed it to be.

I'd recommend it to: People who also read and liked For Colored Girls but wanted so much more. People...more
Trudy
I experienced this story on audio. What a delicious treat!
Inda
"Where there is woman there is magic." How could I not love a book that begins with that sentence? I've been drawn to Shange's work for a very long time since I first read "for colored girls" more than a decade ago and I love her blending of poetry and narrative. I'm generally drawn to the writing from women who came of age during the 60s and crafted their art during the 70s. I love the sensibility from which Shange develops the sisters Sassafras, Cypress and Indigo. One of the more fascinating...more
Malcolm
First published in the early '80s this a marvellous piece of African American feminist writing that unpacks the richness of Geechee cultural backgrounds (see also Julie Dash's novel and distinctively different movie Daughters of the Dust) in the context of the '60s and '70s counter cultures, women's crafts (weaving plays a big role), and the politics of Black nationalism.

In various of her essays Michelle Wallace justly celebrates Shange's writing (more so the play For coloured girls who have con...more
Zoe Brown
A great pleasure to meet this wild, wonderful group of women. Sassafrass wants to be a revolutionary but attaches herself to a self-destructive sax player. She also wants to write, but can't resist weaving like her mama back in Charleston. Cypress loves to dance and sets off to learn ballet, African dance and to love her big body, sex of al kinds, her own strength and a good man. Indigo, who has "too much south" in her, takes the fiddle as her "talkin' friend," using it as part of her love of he...more
Kimberly Hicks
Feb 18, 2013 Kimberly Hicks rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with Patience
Recommended to Kimberly by: Goodreads
Ummm, I'm not really sure I know where to begin on this book. Let's just say it's one of those books that you have to truly "concentrate" in order to really grasp what is going on. I love the poetic sections of the book, and I loved the recipes thrown about, but it broke up the story, in my opinion.

And speaking of story, hmmm, I struggled with the understanding of exactly what was "really" going on? It didn't appear to be such a strong story line, other than following three sisters outrageous l...more
Sharon
I have to admit, I picked this book up after looking at nothing more than the title. Not something I usually do, but perhaps I was meant to learn something.
What I learned that I didn't already know...a bunch of French words in reference to ballet, a bit about the various African-American movements in the 60's and early 70's.
What I already knew...abusive relationships are bad, drugs screw you up, people who are manipulative will take you at every turn, and Momma's always hope for the best for the...more
Misty
I fell in love with how full these characters are, especially with all their differences. I like the focus on their characters living as women of color, as sisters, as daughters, as lovers, as artists, and as individuals. Each of their life's breath seems to come straight from their individual experiences into and through their separate art forms, all equally beautiful. I wanted more of Indigo's story, but overall it's still very rich and satisfying as a book "meal".
Ralowe Ampu
the cover to the edition i read of this book was driving me crazy, and corroborates the misdirection of the book's true structure. this book is not at all what i expected. i'm so poor at literary history that i don't know if the concept of magic realism applies to what's happening in this book. shange's world is one of the most enjoyable locations interpreting the black experience that i've ever read. appreciating this vision i also at times became bothered by the heterosexist entrapments of the...more
VJ
I was most pleased with the description of Cypress, the dancing sister. Indigo and Sassafras are too ethereal and stupid, respectively, for my taste. I don't like reading about women making dumb decisions to stay with abusive men (Sassafras).

I liked the mother's letters to her daughters. Full of country folk wisdom and love for her children.

Otherwise, this book was tedious. It took as long to read as something by Proust and wasn't half as analytical as it was experimental.

Update: I think what...more
Judy
This book fits into the category of not-sure-how-to-rate. Ntozake Shange has the ability to sing with her writing, although I'm not that big on writing with that much dialect. However, even the use of dialect can be defended since without it the reader wouldn't have had half the cultural experience. The cultural experience is what makes this book work because there isn't much of a story that hasn't been told before. And that sums up why I'm giving this book 2.5 stars. As much as I loved viewing...more
Jamal
The most enchanting and magical Piece ive read this year...Sheer poetry from beginning to end!...I loved Indigo would have given this a complete five stars if shange would have given me just a little more indigo ...Overall this was an awesome read!
Renee Cioffi
I read this for a college english course. I don't remember hating any of the books I read for that class, but seeing how I don't really remember my feelings towards this book, it couldn't have been too spectacular.
Lulu
Upon reading the last page of the book, I said "WTF?" LOL. But it was actually a good story. I enjoyed how she developed each character's story. We learned early on in the book about Indigo which is why there was really no need to continue talking about her...she never changed! She was her who she was to be as a child! Yes...this was a good book. :-)
Dana.nicksongmail.com
If you have sisters, a mother, or close girlfriends, this is an awesome book. In beautiful prose Shange shows the interconnectedness and freedom these sisters and mother depend on.
Laura Hoopes
If you think sensory stimulation is important in reading/writing, Shange's novel will take you to nirvana. The title gives you some indication, but the lives of three creative women in South Carolina, their foods, their music, their aromas, their colors, all are off the top of my scale in terms of sensory stimulation. I love the informality, in some ways reminding me of Like Water for Chocolate, the immediacy, and the intimacy with which Ntozake Shange writes about these women's lives. As a scie...more
Chivon
I wasn't sure what to think of this book when I first read it and I really didn't even know anything aboaut the author or that it was the same author as For Colored Girls, but I enjoyed the book. It took me until almost half way through that I realized I was enjoying this book. All about 3 sisters and a mama who communicates to her daughters through memories and letters as they go out into the world to experience their lives. I think this book could be solely Cypress's story. It was the story th...more
Janeen
Shange's writing is certainly magical. I was transported into Indigo's world by simply reading a few sentences. While I was in a trance thanks to the writing, I found that actual plot(s) of the characters a little hard to follow. Yet, the depth of characters was great...I loved the relationship between the daughters and their mother. I particularly fell for Indigo's love for her dolls. So real and so sweet.
Juliet Wilson
I first discovered Ntozake Shange as a poet when I came back from Malawi and her work was featured in the then current issue of a feminist magazine (probably Spare Rib I'd guess). Her poetry blew me away and so I was delighted all these years later to find this novel by her. It's the story of three sisters and their different journeys through life, as artists, dancers, weavers and writers. The narrative is interspersed with poetry and recipes and letters. The whole is vibrant and passionate and...more
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Ntozake Shange (pronounced En-toe-ZAHK-kay SHONG-gay) is an African-American playwright, performance artist, and writer who is best known for her Obie Award winning play for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.

Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, and a Pushcart Prize.
More about Ntozake Shange...
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf Ellington Was Not a Street Some Sing, Some Cry Coretta Scott Betsey Brown

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“Where there is a woman there is magic. If there is a moon falling from her mouth, she is a woman who knows her magic, who can share or not share her powers. A woman with a moon falling from her mouth, roses between her legs and tiaras of Spanish moss, this woman is a consort of the spirits.” 61 likes
“The slaves who were ourselves had known terror intimately, confused sunrise with pain, & accepted indifference as kindness.” 7 likes
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