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Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons & Love Affairs
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Things I Should Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons & Love Affairs

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  582 ratings  ·  109 reviews
In this inspiring memoir, the award-winning playwright and bestselling author of What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day reminisces on the art of juggling marriage, motherhood, and politics while working to become a successful writer.

In addition to being one of the most popular living playwrights in America, Pearl Cleage is a bestselling author with an Oprah Book Club pic
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Atria Books (first published April 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  582 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, memoir, 2014
I'm so in love with this book that I want to go down the street, knock on Pearl's door with 2 mugs of tea and chat the afternoon away with her... ...more
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, silversparrow
Picked this up because, enh, it looked interesting. The morning before it's due back at the library I thought, well, I'm obviously not going to get to this, I'll just peruse a few entries and then take it back. 50 pages later and I'm late to work* because I can't put it down.

She writes with an intimacy appropriate for a journal, but more like she's talking to a close friend than to herself. She's a young woman, then slightly older, working through all her passion and fascination with life, disco
Read In Colour
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can only hope there's a follow up to this. The book covers the author's life in the 70s & 80s. I'm dying to know what was going down in the 90s and 00s! Simply amazing life this woman has lived. ...more
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. I don't know what say there are so many passages that made me feel like my future self from another time was speaking to me. These entries are about being a woman who is free... a woman like me. ...more
Jai Danielle
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Two words: Read. This.
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
If Pearl Cleague wanted her daughter to know her better, this book needs her as a current day narrator here and there to explain things. Her marriage seems to be going along fine and suddenly she is divorcing. No explanation. I question why she wanted her daughter to know how she spent a lot of time on three main activities: getting high, (her daughter seemingly a beloved afterthought) obsessing about her unnamed "lovers," and worrying about her career. I have nothing against her writing about t ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lemonade, listened
Favorite line "people do sit-ups in the morning, I want orgasms" 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾. This book basically is saying nothing is new is under the sun.I appreciate her honesty. This is actually book I would be interested in buying ...more
Aleatha Terrell
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I laughed outloud and cried while reading this book. Clage's journal entries made me feel less alone and less crazy...or they made me feel crazy but hopeful that I can be productive in spite of said crazy. ...more
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
(originally published at

The backstory:  Longtime readers know Pearl Cleage is my absolute favorite author. See my raves about her novels: What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, I Wish I Had a Red DressSome Things I Never Thought I'd DoBabylon SistersBaby Brother's Blues, Seen It All and Done the Restand Til You Hear From Me. Any new writing from Pearl is a cause for celebration.

The basics: Things I Should Have Told My Daughter is a curated collect
O Truth
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it
I would have gone for a 3.5. I've admired Pearl Cleage's writing for a while and looked forward to this read. This read left me a bit disappointed. The journals felt like they had been written to be read and to shock a bit but the real hard background scenes in her life were left out. For example, she takes us to a marriage and divorce but none of what happened in between. She lets us know that she got fired, but not what led up to it. I kept wondering why she felt the need to share this with he ...more
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not your typical book. Just as the title implies, it's diary entries spanning a couple decades. I enjoyed the randomness of it, the passion, the guilt and sadness, the confusion, the constant search for a sense of freedom...the emotions experienced by all of us living this life. I'm definitely inspired to be more consistent in my journaling as I found it to be quite an intimate gift and unique treasure to possibly share my life experiences with my own daughter one day. ...more
A. Jones
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Definitely things in there a mother should share with her daughter, but not sure it needed to be shared with the rest of the world. If you're a BIG Pearl Cleage fan, you'll probably enjoy it, but as a casual fan, I always find her writing unfulfilling. As soon as she says something I find poignant or intriguing, she moves on to the next subject or stops talking. It gets frustrating. ...more
I don't know how I heard about this book, and I can only assume I put it on my to-read list because it came out during my "year of reading diversely." It is not a memoir in the traditional sense; it is, quite literally, Cleage's personal journal entries from 1970 to 1988. I haven't read any of her other work — I had to look her up to figure out how she was famous enough that someone would be willing to publish her personal journals, since they're not anything spectacular in and of themselves — b ...more
Victoria Law
I can't quite remember why I picked this up. I loved What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, so that was part of it. I may have thought it was a memoir rather than an unannotated collection of journal entries. I would have gotten more out of these short insights into her life in the 70s & 80s had these been annotated, like Ida B Wells' Memphis diaries. Our, at the very least, if there had been a glossary of characters and events so that the neophyte reader knows that Julian = Julian Bond and k ...more
Willi Quinn
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
Just when you think you know everything about your mother, Pearl Cleage comes through with joint lighting, power to the people wisdom that makes you want to confront your own mom, —as if you’re the parent. Because you absorb the conversations and get the feeling that you can hear a piece of your mother speaking. Things I Should Have Told My Daughter is meeting your mother before she was yours. It is sometimes an eavesdrop; listening to mother in another time, a time when she was once you. It is ...more
Vrinda Quintero
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. Reading how she changes through time but race and gender define her life and her struggles was very interesting. As a journal it's a very real recount of a woman's life in the seventies and eighties. ...more
Vi Louise
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
No one but Pearl Cleage could have read her memoir as well as she does. I have always loved Ms. Cleage's works (better in audio). I learned so much about her here. I didn't realize she was a feminist and an activist back in the day. The black power movement history provided was amazing also. I love her even more after learning of her "humaness" especially with the smoking LOL. ...more
Stephanie Waterhouse
This is a collection of journal entries for twenty years, from the 70's through the 90's. I wanted to read this book after seeing the writer months ago on a news show segment promoting the book.

Pearl Cleage is about seven years older than I so I could relate to the events she spoke of in this book. I even lived in Atlanta from 1977-1998. She put her journal entries into book form after her daughter said no to giving her journal to the granddaughter. As one who keeps journals as well, it was diff
Caitlin Cramer
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
In the introduction for this memoir, Pearl Cleage talks about discussing the idea of using all of her journal entries and wants to give it to her daughter so she can better understand her mother and possibly herself. Her daughter rejects this idea, believing that the things she writes about - sex, love, pregnancy, child birth, abortion, divorce, drug use, the death of a parent, etc - are private.

I would kill to have a journal like this from my mother.

Cleage’s journal entries over the span of se
Cleage's journal/memoir is a nothing less than a delicious treat to read. Like other honest and engaging published journals, this one inspires me to write more in my own journal. And though I'm not a woman, I can relate so much to her struggles as a writer, activist, parent, and spouse. I'm nearly finished with the book, and I think the journal entires she shares after divorcing her husband, Micheal Lomax, are more engaging. However, though I realize this book is a memoir, some parts of the book ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
"What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day" is one of my favorite books. It builds a narrative that is feminist without being too heavy. Somehow, I failed to recognize Cleage as a feminist, so reading these excerpts from her diary was a pleasurable eye-opener.

The history Cleage chose to share is one of growth, strength and vulnerability. Her openness about unfulfilled desires in her career and in love is refreshing and encouraging. It reminds me that our heroes are real people, just like us. It
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Upon reading this book it definitely wasn't what I expected. It's literally all her journal entries up until the 90s. After getting over the shock I was able to identify with her journey as a woman trying to juggle and balance motherhood, her career and a relationship. A couple of things I learned- chase your dream or passion, be honest with yourself about everything, chase and find your happiness, maintain your individuality after motherhood, and if you have time write it all down. | This book ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some books are meant to be devoured like a soul food meal; other books are best enjoyed in small sips like a fine glass of wine. Things I Should Have Told My Daughter is obvi the latter. I read this memoir very slowly. It is a personal view into an amazing storyteller's life in the 1970s and 1980s. Told in journal format, it is confessional writing at its finest!

Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
The journals of poet (and playwright, and screen writer, and journalist, and speech writer, etc) Pearl Cleage were a really good read. I enjoyed every aspect of the her exploration of the big issues: how to write, how to live, men, race, rape, feminism and black feminism. Solitude. In the tradition of Nin, Sarton, LeMarque, Kahlo, Lorde, the woman's essential mind rattling its cage, even if it is sometimes an open cage. I will read this book again. ...more
Andrea Ward
May 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
I was not prepared to read a journal formatted bk. the title did not fit my expectation of the contents. I had to read the bk aloud 2 myself in order for the bk to make sense to me. I did not get it! Half of my bookclub liked the bk the other half did not. This bk was too out of the ordinary for me.
Betsy Palmer
Jan 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I picked up this book because I thought it would be about a mother-daughter relationship but that is only a very small part of the book. I found the format less than helpful (many of the diary entries need identifying information to help the reader understand what is happening) but despite that, I enjoyed the book and now want to read more of Pearl's work and learn more about her life. ...more
Sandra Mccall
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I love the freedom of her writing (even journaling find it difficult to put it all out there). I was hoping for more context for the journal entries... I often felt disconnected, trying to discover a backstory to explain what the author was feeling.
Rachael Oglesby
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read this back and August, and loved it so much I recently listened to it again in audio form.
Jerrika Rhone
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
5% Done: When you think you know what an author is about then *BOOM* you read their memoir.
Kori London
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Told from the years 1970 - 1988 we are thrown into the thoughts of a black young woman writer through her diary entries as she navigates the realities of life, love, and making the rent.
Pearl's diary entries are timeless (despite the dated cultural references) as she glides into womanhood with more questions than answers. More assumptions, than realities, and the hard fact that even as a woman creative is free to create, the questions spurred on from the changes of life can alter and delay the p
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Pearl Cleage (born December 7, 1948) is an African-American author whose work, both fiction and non-fiction, has been widely recognized. Her novel What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day was a 1998 Oprah Book Club selection. Cleage is known for her feminist views, particularly regarding her identity as an African-American woman. Cleage teaches drama at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Pearl Cl

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