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The Yellow House

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  13,402 ratings  ·  1,708 reviews
In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant--the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventuall ...more
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published August 13th 2019 by Grove Press
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Marie Paxson I just finished the audio version of the book and loved it. I feel like I know this family, even though I know that's not realistic. I'm actually miss…moreI just finished the audio version of the book and loved it. I feel like I know this family, even though I know that's not realistic. I'm actually missing them at the moment (I completed the book this morning)(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  13,402 ratings  ·  1,708 reviews

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Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Goodreads friends. Each year to mark this distinctly American holiday I attempt to read a book that is American in scope. Over the course of 2019 I have read a number of memoirs that have pieced together Americana person by person. Some have been admittedly better than others, yet all share the American ideal of achieving their own personal dream. This year’s National Book Award winner for nonfiction is The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom. Part memoir and part social ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, recs
In her debut, The Yellow House, Sarah Broom insightfully examines the history of New Orleans East, the city’s predominantly Black, working-class suburb, through the lens of her family’s fraught attempt to build a stable life there. Broom begins her work by sketching detailed portraits of her grandmother, parents, and older siblings, before recounting her turbulent youth spent in New Orleans East in the titular yellow house. The last of twelve children, she grew up fatherless, with an overworked ...more
‘The Yellow House’ by Sarah M. Broom is an absorbing debut that is both memoir and commentary about her New Orleans East family in a pre and post-Hurricane Katrina world. Broom’s writing style is inviting, filled with facts, and enough descriptive detail to keep me engaged. The first 100 pages establish her family’s particular history in New Orleans East which was being heavily developed throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

“The newspapers fell hard for New Orleans East. Here was a story with possibi
D.  St. Germain
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, new-orleans
Now that this book has won the National Book Award and been named one of the ten best books of 2019 by the New York Times, hopefully it will find a bigger readership / get some additional attention (it was disappointing to see it left off the Goodreads Choice Awards memoir choices.) That is, some attention that isn’t half-cocked misquotery or reflections on the how this book isn’t really a memoir. What is a memoir anyway? Why read one?

Memoir should reckon with what a life means and how what som
Elyse  Walters
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ivory Mae bought her first and only house in New Orleans - NOLA- east in 1961.
She had twelve children:
Simon Jr., Deborah, Valerie, Eddie, Michael, Darryl, Carl, Karen, Troy, Byron, Lynette, and Sarah.
We get to know all these siblings plus many other characters.

Sarah... the baby of this family - whose birth father died six months after she was born - (author Sarah M. Broom) - a native New Orleanian - who received her Masters of Journalism at UC Berkeley in 2004- tells this story/memoir:
Winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, this is Sarah Monique (“Mo”) Broom’s poignant account of her large New Orleanian family and the house that contained and defined all fourteen of them. Sarah’s mother Ivory Mae and her brother Carl were the stars of this book for me. Ivory Mae was stepmother to three children and physically bore nine. Sarah was her last child. Ivory used the payout from her first husband’s military life insurance policy in 1961 to purchase a home, nicknamed ’ ...more
Diane Barnes
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Yellow House is:

The story of a house and it's eventual demise.
The story of the family that lived in that house.
The story of Hurricane Katrina.
The story of New Orleans. What it is and what it isn't.
The story of Sarah Monique Broom, youngest of the 12 children raised in that house, and her journey to understand all the above mentioned facets, and her need to escape, and the pull to go home.

This was an incredible feat of writing and research and soul-searching, culminating in winning the Natio
Regina Lemoine
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars.

The devil, as they say, is in the details and so many of the small details in Broom's book are factually inaccurate that it drove this New Orleans native to distraction, repeatedly pulling me out of the narrative. I preface my remarks by saying that the house in which I spent the first 8 years of my life was less than a mile from Broom's family home on Wilson Avenue. My father's youngest brother lived for a time in the trailer park on Wilson and his daughter knew Broom's family. I liv
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

Well cutting to the chase I really didn't like this one. I was all ready to fall in love with a nonfiction story where the author talks about her family living in New Orleans East. A place that I have never heard about. Instead the big jumps around a lot and Broom at times talks about her family as if they were these people she doesn't know. I kept getting confused everytime she talked about Simon Broom
Jun 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This book doesn't feel like a memoir. It reads like a fairly dry history of a large Black family and their house, before and after its destruction by Katrina. Although the author puts herself in the center of this account, she mostly steers away from personal feelings and introspection. I did learn about East New Orleans but was never fully engaged.
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
National Book Award for Nonfiction 2019. Who are we? How did we become the person we are? Broom’s powerful memoir explores the many influences that formed her identity. Born in 1979, she was the youngest child of her mother Ivory Mae’s twelve children. Her father, Simon Broom, died when she was just 6 months old. This was the second husband that Ivory Mae buried and she vowed to never marry again. She focused all of her attention on raising and providing for her children in the house that she bo ...more
The Yellow House by Sarah Broom was a beautiful memoir that was not only the story of this very special family but a of a very special house, a home that loomed so large and an integral part of their history in New Orleans, Louisiana. The author, Sarah M. Broom, dedicates her book to three special women, Amelia "Lolo," Auntie Elaine and Ivory Mae; her maternal grandmother, her aunt and her mother, all strong women and such important influences in her life.

This is a stunning debut memoir by Sara
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is about a family, a city (New Orleans) and a storm (Katrina). A closer look reveals an additional story about race, class, and identity. Closer still exposes how the US consistently fails and marginalizes poor black families. Katrina is simply one large link in a rusty, poorly maintained, unwieldy chain that is Black America. This is a phenomenal and artfully written book. The author deftly tells her family’s story which is deeply embedded in New Orleans, their neighborhood, and “Th ...more
Nancy Oakes

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hence a big fat five stars, and were there more I would give those as well. It is beyond excellent, poignant, funny at times but always very down to earth and real; it is a book that deserves any and all awards that may come its way in the future. The Yellow House is genuinely that good.

just read the blog post.

Judith E
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, southern
A pre and post Hurricane Katrina story told through the transformation of Sarah Broom’s yellow house in which she and her 11 siblings were raised in New Orleans East. Her memoir embarks on an investigation to pin down who she is and from where she came. It is also a statement about New Orleans, it’s racial segregation and it’s racial inequality.

Her fluid writing not only made me angry and sad, but also deeply inspired by her mother’s steadfastness in raising 12 children in a loving, healthy env
Karen Lausa
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book confounds me. I turned page after page waiting to feel engaged, to care about a sprawling, massive family that experienced “the Water” (Hurricane Katrina) but somehow leaves the reader without any sense of emotion, connection or compassion. Having read Dave Egger’s Zeitoun, this reader deeply felt the tragedy of the hurricane and its relentless aftereffects. Somehow, this memoir rambles on and on, with anecdotes that feel disorganized and random. The accolades the book received seem su ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This book was about many things-a memoir, a family history, a story of Hurricane Katrina, and a story of New Orleans. The many strengths of the book were also its weaknesses. It was expansive, but that made it hard to keep track of all the people and places. The writing was elegant, but also a bit too restrained. It was well-researched, but also veered into too much detail that detracted from the central narrative. This was evidently written with deep love for her family and birth city, and that ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Broom’s The Yellow House should stand as an American classic. Refracted through the Yellow House in which she grew up, Broom intertwines her migrations, her family’s stories and their migrations, New Orleans appalling economic and political inequities, and the predictable tragedies and aftermaths of the Water — Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina. A memoir and so much more than a memoir, deservedly a winner of the 2019 National Book Award for nonfiction.
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Say the words “New Orleans” to people and images of Mardi Gras, beignets, jazz, voodoo, second lines, eclectic art and Saints football immediately spring to mind. It is a city that is visited by millions of tourists a year and has been the musical and literary muse for countless artists and writers. Past the hustle and bustle of Jackson Square and the Cathedral in the famous French Quarter, heading out East on I-10, is a part of New Orleans that doesn’t make the travel brochures and tour bus sto ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite memoirs of the year! I loved that the memoir aspect was paralleled against a social history of New Orleans East, and that we got so many insights into the regional complexities. It is also so compellingly written, I found I flew through this!
Lisa Taddeo
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Masterful. Large-scale and granular at once. Quietly stunning prose. Wow.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
Sarah M. Broom's debut combines the highly personal with the journalist investigative eye, creating an engrossing, heartfelt memoir that is, simply put, so much more than the traditional memoir. Broom delivers a loving tribute to family, the history of a place (New Orleans East), the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, a withering view of racism, social injustice, political incompetence and more. Tying everything together, of course, is a house and all that a house and home represents, even long after ...more
Jan 25, 2020 added it
Shelves: 0-2020
What a slog. I'm not sure why this won an award. The prose is flat and although memoir is my favorite genre at the moment, I didn't get much insight or engagement here.
Daniel Chaikin
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

4121 Wilson - Sarah Broom's childhood home, the yellow house

New Orleans East is so far off the regular New Orleans map that I had never heard of it, despite my four years of college in the city. A drained swamp that probably should never have been built, it was a 1960's develop project of a few investors in an expanding city, and was designed to be a nice suburb of New Orleans. It was severely flooded in 1964(?), resulting in never-again promises of flood protection. As economy shrunk in New Orl
Kasa Cotugno
Definitely worth all the attention it's garnered.
The Yellow House is a story of East New Orleans, a forgotten part of the city, missing from maps handed out to tourists, and the story of Broom’s family. East New Orleans was built up after the Second World War, and was the home to many of the African Americans who worked at NASA during the Space Race. Not as scientists, but they did the vital maintenance and daily tasks that kept things running. A memoir told through the story of a house is not just an interesting device. Housing is a basic hum ...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
Thoughts soon.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
New Orleans East is the newest section of the Crescent City, which is separated from the more populous and better known neighborhoods by the Industrial Canal, its western border and a passageway for ships that connects Lake Pontchartrain, the East's northern border, to the Mississippi River. The East is also bounded by the Intracoastal Waterway to the south, which connects the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico in the southeastern corner of Louisiana, and the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife ...more
May 25, 2020 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
DNF @ 20%

Nothing wrong with this, I'm just not particularly as interested in it as I expected to be based on the blurb.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On one level, “The Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom is the story of one house in New Orleans East and the family who made it their home for over 40 years. But it is so much more—the story of the city of New Orleans and the ways it both burrows into its residents’ souls and betrays them and their loyalty over and over again; the story of the toll poverty and racism takes on black Americans; the story of Katrina and climate change and the catastrophic results of poor urban planning. “Remembering is ...more
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