This started out good but fizzled in the last half. She dealt with some ugly stuff in her life and found a sane way through it. I give her credit forThis started out good but fizzled in the last half. She dealt with some ugly stuff in her life and found a sane way through it. I give her credit for that. ...more
This is a somewhat difficult book to evaluate. The story of her life is intense and ultimately tragic, yet the kernel of triumph is that she was ableThis is a somewhat difficult book to evaluate. The story of her life is intense and ultimately tragic, yet the kernel of triumph is that she was able to emerge despite the most challenging of circumstances that would crush anyone. The book is written in Billie's own voice; great because you get the real feel of this woman, but I think her co-author could have done so much more to flesh out some of the details, which is where the book fell flat. She endured some unimaginable circumstances - raped at the age of 10 and jailed for it (!), raised in poverty by a mother who had her at 13 and bounced around between living with her mother and other relatives, drug addiction, living through the great depression and WWII, racism and Jim Crow laws, and preyed on by unscrupulous 'managers' who took advantage of her financially and sexually. What endures is the story of her amazing talent.
The bonus of this book was the tribute CD that came with it! Music she made popular performed by other artists - terrific. Deborah Cox performing Fine and Mellow is absolutely wonderful....more
A memoir full of conflicting feelings and actions told with amazing personal grace. Strom Thurmond was the longest serving Senator when he retired atA memoir full of conflicting feelings and actions told with amazing personal grace. Strom Thurmond was the longest serving Senator when he retired at the age of 100, and easily one of the most controversial figures over the course of his career. Many remember him as a staunch segregationist. Which makes the circumstances of this book all the more confounding - the author is his daughter, who was the product of an affair he had as a very young man with his family's black maid. Essie Mae grew up in the early years of her life thinking that the two people who raised her were her parents. She was being raised by her mother's sister and her husband. Surprise! This discovery was dropped on her in the most unusual way, first by her mother, and eventually her mother introduced her to the man who was her biological father, the Senator. This book tells the story of Essie Mae's discovery of her unusual family lineage, her eventual relationship with her father, how she kept it a secret until after his passing, and her reconciling of her feelings throughout the course of her life. Strom Thurmond's politics always made my stomach turn and this book did not endear him to me at all, despite the generous forgiveness bestowed on him by Essie Mae. Even though I read the book, I am still trying to imagine how she came to terms with her feelings and her father. Remarkable. ...more
If you are a fan of Mark Twain, you might enjoy this autobiographical sketch of his experiences along the Mississippi River. Much of this book is compIf you are a fan of Mark Twain, you might enjoy this autobiographical sketch of his experiences along the Mississippi River. Much of this book is comprised of vignettes told from the time of his young life as a riverboat cub and then his return trip many years later. Parts are told in his clasic wit style, but I struggled with his disjointed connections and it lacked flow in the story line. It was average overall even though there were some engaging parts to it. For a memoir my expectations were higher. For a series of short stories it would be more appealing....more
Very compelling true story of a young boy and his three friends growing up in Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s. Life in the multi-ethnic impoverished neighVery compelling true story of a young boy and his three friends growing up in Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s. Life in the multi-ethnic impoverished neighborhood in those days was rough and the author told his experience vividly. Survival was a daily struggle, for everyone. Without giving too much away, the four boys end up getting sent to a juvenile detention facility in upstate NY. The experiences there change their lives profoundly, in different ways for each, some good some not so much.
This was a very compelling book. The author bares his soul by telling his story. It contains instances that are unbearably difficult to comprehend and will make you wonder how on earth human beings can do such things to each other. The evil some people perpetrate on others confounds me. There can be redemption and justice in the end. This book makes you wonder if any of that is possible. ...more