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Your Blues Ain't Like Mine
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Your Blues Ain't Like Mine

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  7,068 ratings  ·  149 reviews
Now, in her first novel, repercussions are felt for decades in a dozen lives after a racist beating turns to cold-blooded murder in a small 1950s Mississippi town.

Chicago-born Amrstrong Tood is fifteen, black, and unused to the ways of the segregated Deep South, when his mother sends him to spend the summer with relatives in rural Mississippi. For speaking a few innocuous
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 27th 1995 by One World/Ballantine (first published September 8th 1992)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Whenever I hear someone rave about The Help, I suggest they read Your Blues Ain't Like Mine. The Help has good parts, but on the whole Your Blues Ain't Like Mine -- a novel based on the Emmett Till murder -- seems so much more realistic and honest about how horrible conditions were for African-Americans in the 1950s South.

Here's a post I wrote about the novel for Newsworthy Novels, a blog that matches novels to today's headlines and events (this entry was for Black History Month):
This book was a Mocha Girls Read book club book of the month for the month of February. Our theme was Fictional Black History and this book delivered in so many ways.
Armstrong was a young Black city kid dropped into the South to stay with his Grandma when he is killed for speaking French indirectly to a White woman. No I didn't spoil it for you, that's where the story starts. The book then goes into decades of showing the reader the effects of his death in the community both in Hopewell and
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading "Your Blues Ain't Like Mine" and all I can say is, "Wow!" Bebe Moore Campbell (may she rest in peace) wrote a really fantastic historical fiction novel. The language was beautiful! I'm fascinated by Campbell's writing. I am still trying to figure out how she managed to switch narrative voices, so accurately, with so many characters. Each character had a distinct voice. For example, the strongest characters, Delotha, Ida, Mamie, and Doreen all have a completely different ...more
mark monday
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
amazing book but having to hear all of my white classmates dissect race was grueling.
Kevin Porter
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This modern day fictional retelling of the events that preceded and followed the brutal beating death of Emmett Till is a visual and visceral story rich with memorable and authentic characters, beautiful prose and dialogue that rings true. Bebe Moore Campbell is a powerful storyteller who captures the essence of the characters and times. Campbell is a treasure gone too soon.
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Finished this book months ago, and it is amazing. The writing, and the story-telling make me feel as though I know the characters personally and have been in the deep south/Chicago amongst them. The story takes place before, during, and somewhat after the civil rights movement, in the south and some parts in Chicago. The blacks working as cotton pickers, getting lynched for the slightest things, the southern "white trash" poor being angry and jealous when the manual labor jobs and such are given ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby Frucht
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I waited so long to read Bebe Moore Campbell's novels. First, for their realism, their way of plunking you down into the gritty immediacy of whatever is happening in them..and there is a lot happening in them. Her take on black and white, men and women, segregation, integration....priceless. I grieve for this author and the loss of the other books she might have written had she not died so young.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, owned
The characters are so well written, I wanted to read more about them.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Your Blues is a novel that you can't put down, but need to in order to absorb the reality of racism and American history. It parallels history and is peppered with references to actual incidences that occurred during the civil rights (Emmett Till). However, on the merits alone of being an excellent novel and story the characters will stay with you for a long time and may surprise you by feelings of empathy for the most hateful of people. Racism impacts all the lives of these characters in the ...more
So many feelings. Such an excellent read.
Jonah Leigh Ramos
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This novel is surely revolutionary. Not the thing you'd take for light reading. There's just too much in it. The words are full. The words aren't mediocre and trash. The words paint. Some passages are poetic, but not the type any one will try too hard to get to understand. The metaphors are as understandable as the songs of the soul.

I am fascinated by the way Campbell told the story in different points of view, that you can't just bring yourself to love one character and one character alone.
Carol Baldwin
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"The blues is something in your soul telling you they ain't no hope, shit ain't never gon' be right." (p. 410)

This multi-generational book begins in the 50's in the Mississippi Delta and carries the reader through to the mid-80's. Ms. Campbell did an incredible job of portraying the racial conflicts in this time and place. Definitely a book with adult content, I would highly recommend it to those who are trying to understand the origins of racial tensions in the South. Kudos to Ms. Campbell for
This book was a good read. I leave that you got to know each character and the things they struggle with internally from their past as well as how their roles in society has shaped them. You get the perspective of the black Americans living in rural Mississippi during the 1950's as well as the perspective of the white Americans living in Mississippi. By the end of the book one thing is very clear we all struggle with something regardless of race, class or gender. Your Blues Ain't Like Mines was ...more
T Neff
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
What an inspiring story! It was a page turner from beginning to end. I really enjoyed it. It was spiritually touching. If you like books like this, you should also "Under the Peach Tree" by Charlay Marie.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This book is based on the story of Emmitt Till. It's soooo excellent. BeBe Moore Campbell did an amazing job of writing from the perspective of all of her characters. I think everybody should read this book.
Jenn Anne
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Well-written. Honest about difficult subjects including racism and domestic abuse. An intriguing exploration of the effects of a single violent action, weakness, strength, despair and hope. Well worth your time.
Debra Battle
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: yes
I miss the fact that there are no more book left to red. I was at a friend's house a went though her book and pick this one to read and after a few pages found one of my three fav. I wish I could have meet her the books became a big part of my joy or reading!!!
Dosha (Bluestocking7) Beard
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
this is one of the best books I can remember reading.
Mel Bossa
review sometime this week. Very good book.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
I didn't know the first thing about the Emmett Till lynching till this book came by. But the murder only forms the backdrop of the novel. The aftermath in the Cox and Todd families is in many ways quite important and interesting to read. The sections on Delotha after Armstrong's death is particularly heart-wrenching. Lynchings of black people were not uncommon in Jim Crow South but Till's murder was gruesome in that even a child was not spared from prejudice.

Campbell's attention to
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book for my Intro to Black Studies class during my last year of college. I was skeptical at first because the points of view jumped around seemed somewhat distant, but as it turns out, it was one of the best aspects of the novel. It begins with an incident of misunderstanding that leads to a murder that incites the community of Hopewell more than any other killing before, leading to many different, yet similar people to become involved and interlinked forever.

Also by having
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an almost perfect novel, loosely based on the life and death of Emmett Till.

Each character- dissected into two camps, African Americans and the Whites, are all multilayered in which multiple points of view are surfaced, to flesh out the ambivalences and fears many felt as Mississippi and Jim Crow life began to disintegrate.

You have the Armstrong Todd (based on Till) camp, including his mother Delotha, Wydell, and children, Karen, Brenda and WT; and The Cox family, Lily and Floyd Cox-
Keyanna Taylor
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
The book Your Blues Ain’t Like mine written by Beebe Moore Campbell is a truly intriguing and inspiring novel. Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine illustrates the lives of two families, one black one white but both very poor. The book shows these two families journeys through the period of the Civil Rights Movement and experiences with segregation. The characters within the novel help portray real issues and struggles that this time period in the American South encompassed. I enjoyed this book because it ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I cannot recall why I had been reading the history of Emmet Till, but I had been, and it led me to add this book to my reading list, and then, as you might expect, reds it.

This is an excellent book. Even the title is perfect -- it explores the blues for a variety of different people; the families of the murdered boy, the families of his murderer, friends, local people. And while they all have their tragedies, they are all different, and compelling, and moving. The author loves her characters.
Jamie Howison
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set in both Chicago and the Mississippi Delta, Campbell's book follows three different (though definitely overlapping...) narrative threads, spanning three generations. It took me a while to get all of the names and characters straight, largely because I was reading the opening chapters in short sittings. When I made time to read good long chunks of the book in extended sittings, all of those characters began to come together, and I found myself caring quite deeply about figures from all three ...more
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
332 pages. Donated 2010 May.

"Intriguing...A thoughtful, intelligent work...The novel traces the yeasr from he '50s to the ate '80s, from Eisenhower to George Bush....She writes with simple eloquence about small-town life in the South, right after the start of the great social upheaval of he civil rights movement....Campbell has a strong creative voice."
Chicago-born Amrstrong Tood is fifteen, black, and unused to the ways of the segregated Deep South, when his mother
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
The joy is that there are whole worlds of authors out there waiting to be discovered. You never know what you will find. I have never read any Campbell before and while I didn't love this book and it isn't perfect, I really liked it and enjoyed the arc of the characters.
This novel is based on the Emmett Till case. Campbell takes the structure of Till's vicious murder and follows the characters in the aftermath of the crime. The book deals with some heavy issues, but was readable and the fates of
Debra E.
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
one of my favorite writers
Winter Sophia Rose
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Journey Into The Heart! A Beautiful Story!
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Mocha Girls Read: Book of the Month: Your Blues Ain't Like Mine 20 81 Mar 01, 2015 11:28AM  

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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
“That's what a man is supposed to do for his wife. Listen, if a nigger didn't get lynched every now and then, well, there's just no telling what they'd do to us."

"Who?" Lily asked.

"Why, honey, the niggers and our husbands both. I don't care what color they are; men build up steam. And they gotta let it out somewhere. Colored men. White men. They both crazy. Honey, the point is you gotta look at it this way: A whole lotta women can't, "I got a man who'll kill for me." ”
“In all his imaginings, he had never envisioned her crying. He knew that her son had died, but he'd never expected that her pain might be anything he could recognize, almost as though he believed that Negroes had their own special kind of grieving ritual, another language, something other than tears they used to express their sadness.” 0 likes
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