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The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  91 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Set against the backdrop of Detroit in the 1960's and 1970's, the story of the life of a one-of-a-kind matriarch whose business in the Numbers made her daughter's dreams come true.

The World According to Fannie Davis is Bridgett Davis's unforgettable coming of age in a family with a secret. The upper middle class splendor in which she and her siblings so happily lived was m
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  91 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
What is luck? Is it something that comes to you in the form of a dream that gives you a winning three-digit number to bet on? Or do you make your own luck with hard work?

Fannie Davis and her husband moved to Detroit from Nashville in 1955 during the Great Migration. Her husband had intermittent work in the auto factories, but that did not provide the kind of income that would catapult them into the middle class. Fannie wanted to be a stay-at-home mother for her five children and had an amazing h
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I don't gamble. I don't buy raffle tickets or lottery tickets or visit the casinos. To me, it's throwing money away. I harbor no dreams of "hitting it big." I don't find it intriguing and it doesn't sound like fun. Then, I'm not motivated by money, although I never had much either.

That made me standoffish about Bridgett M. Davis' memoir about her mother who for 34 years was a numbers runner working out of her Detroit home.'s Detroit...and I had to at least take a look at this book.

Joshunda Sanders
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For the first time in my storied (in my mind) Goodreads career, I might not make my yearly Goodreads challenge and I have Bridgett Davis to blame. Well, it's actually partially my fault, I guess. I wasn't sure what to make of the cover of this book, which put me off because, honestly, her mother, Fannie Davis, looks a lot like my mother. So, I got the galley a while ago, kept looking at it -- and Fannie kept looking at me (even when I put other galleys on top of this galley, I felt like she was ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs-i-loved
Set in Detroit in the 1960s and ‘70s, Bridgett Davis shares the remarkable story of her mother’s life and legacy in the Detroit Numbers. Before the Michigan lottery, there was Numbers; a lucrative business in which players bet daily on three digit numbers in hopes of a big payout. One of two women taking bets in Detroit at the time, Fannie Davis was a force. Migrating from Nashville with her husband, Fannie was determined to make a way for her family despite segregation and poverty that plagued ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 1958, a woman named Fannie Davis borrowed $100 to run a Numbers business out of her apartment on Delaware St. in Detroit, Michigan. She wore many hats: bookie, banker, wife, mother of five, grandmother of one, and numbers runner. She ran her illegal-to-legitimate business for 34 years. This true story is an example of black woman making a way out of no way.

I don't know much about "the numbers" other than it being a natural part of my life. I thought everyone's family played and tracked the lo
Jessica (TasteThisBook)
Bridgett Davis shares her precious, complicated relationship with her mom, and her mom's illegal yet prosperous career in the Detroit numbers. There's so much black history in this book. It also took me by surprise to see myself and my family in her words. This book brought me to tears a few times. Beautifully written.
Erika Dreifus
Feb 17, 2019 added it
Shelves: memoirs
A moving (and historically informative) book, set largely in the 1960s and 1970s of the author's upbringing. In an author's note provided at the outset, Davis helps frame some of the discoveries/sources to come: "Because of the many years that have passed, and the ephemeral nature of the Numbers themselves, the physical record that remains of my mother's business is scant. But my memory of her work is not; it is vivid. To edify and enhance my own memory, I've also relied on the recollections and ...more
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heartfelt and thoughtful, blending the author's personal family history with a bigger-picture look at how the country was changing (for good and more often for bad) for black families during the same time. And a fascinating snapshot of the last 50-or-so years of Detroit history. Brought The Turner House to mind frequently, for obvious reasons! Highly recommended.
Michele Miller
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The world according to Fannie Davis brings to life an important part of U.S. and African American history through a loving tribute to the author’s mother, a fascinating woman who ran a successful numbers operation for 35 years in Detroit against all odds (pun intended). I came away from this novel educated and touched, as well as blown away by the author and her mother's resillience in the face of challenges and tragedies. The topic was interesting and the author’s brilliant writing and superb p ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbr11, library-reads
Bridgett Davis opens this love letter to her mother with a hell of a story. When Bridgett's second grade teacher displayed suspicion about just how many pairs of shoes her pupil had, Fannie Davis very emphatically wasn't having it. I won't spoil what happened--you can probably catch the whole thing in the free sample on Amazon--but suffice it to say that the opening story serves two purposes: to get the reader on Fannie Davis's side, and to reassure the reader that one is in excellent story-tell ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For good reason. This book is getting a lot of good press. I picked up this book for a number of reasons... I know and love the author, I have loved her writing style in other books, and I too loved the book Daddy was a Numbers Runner. I picked it up because I was intrigued by her story relative to how the Numbers game played a key role in her life and about its history in America.

But I loved the book because it is a story about a mother's love for her children, family and community. Loved it be
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-tbr
Book Review: The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers
Author: Bridgett M. Davis
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Review Date: January 6, 2019

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is an absolutely fantastic memoir. A story told by a daughter about her mother, Fannie Davis, who ran Numbers in Detroit, starting in the 1960’s. It’s also a story about Bridgett’s life growing up
I really enjoyed reading this book! One thing I greatly appreciated is how Davis provided historical background while telling her mother's empowering story. It's like a trip down memory lane hearing her mention stores from back in the day (like Winklemans) and other things unique to Detroit. What really struck a cord with me is everything she said about the numbers. I can relate to notebooks filled with numbers, and being asked what I dreamed about last night. I can remember when the Michigan lo ...more
Donna Bijas
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
An easy enjoyable story of the author’s mother’s life as a numbers runner in Detroit in the late 1950s. Fannie, raising 5 kids in poorer sections of Black Detroit was inspiring. She didn’t make a fortune but she did use much of her money providing for her family, near and far, and also many others in her community. She believed in giving back. I can certainly relate to this story as my Dad also ran numbers but only as the one who took the bets to the person in charge in return for a small wage. ...more
Susan Murphy
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Bridgett Davis details the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, extended family, Black culture, and Detroit history. Fannie Davis is unapologetically resilient and successful in providing for her family while acknowledging the risks of running an illegal business. Bridgett is brutally honest in her shifting loyalties to her family but never moves from her belief that her mother operated outside the law to provide her opportunities to be successful. Her mothe ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books-read
Such an interesting book. I am from the Detroit area so I understood all of the geographical references in the book but even if you don't know these places the book is good. It shows the differences between income levels and between black and white in the area at the time. I especially learned a lot about playing the "Numbers" and how smart you have to be to figure it all out. The people that ran these things could have run any business if they were given the opportunities. The book also shows t ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
A richly worded and personal account of growing up in a Numbers home. Davis gives a nuanced political and cultural history of the numbers, specific to Detroit with universal similarities across the country. Most interesting is the interwoven political realities of being black in the u s, and the financial injustice that often could only be remedied by working just over the line as bookies and boosters. Her mother is a complex, smart and generous woman whose talents would have enhanced any instit ...more
Rachel Paster
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
In some ways I loved this book because it did viscerally remind me what it was like growing up in Detroit (and environs) in the late 70's. But Davis doesn't really tell us that much about her mother's life, and even less about the numbers. It's not that it isn't well researched, it just somehow seems superficial. Maybe it's the problem we all have in really knowing our parents, but I was disappointed that we never really emotional connect with Fannie Davis.
Nandi Crawford
I was brought up in New York, so I'm familiar with the numbers and pretty much how it worked. I was a bit surprised it happened in Detroit, but not really. I love Mrs Fannie Davis, and her drive to make a better life for her and her family. I understand her daughter's hesitation since they kept this under wraps for so long but I am so glad you did.
Cecilia Smith
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it....Teared up lot! It really makes you rethink class, culture, intellect and survival, from a multitude of perspectives that I would venture to say that most have not thought about. It’s incredibly honest....
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
From the late 1950s onward, Davis' mother Fannie built a business in the Numbers--the illegal lottery game.

It's a fascinating story of entrepreneurship and the role of the Numbers in the community. By the time I was growing up, well after New York had established a lottery, numbers were known to me only as something that appeared in news stories about the Mafia. I was unaware of its history in the black community, and Davis does an excellent job of explaining it, especially within Detroit. The
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting for the first 80 pages or so. Then seemed to wander with no real point beyond documenting stories for family members.
Anna Alexander
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Bridgett Davis did an excellent job blending Detroit history with her own family history. I cried when her mom died and I cried when her dad died. Excellent book.
Leslie Sheedy Lintz
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Bridgett M. Davis is an author, filmmaker, curator and teacher.

Davis' memoir, The World According To Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life In The Detroit Numbers (Little, Brown / January 2019), is her first nonfiction book.

Davis is the author of two novels, Into the Go-Slow and Shifting Through Neutral.

As a professor of Journalism and the Writing Professions at CUNY’s Baruch College, she teaches creativ