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Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope

4.60  ·  Rating details ·  713 ratings  ·  169 reviews
"Wynn is my son. No little boy could be more loved by his parents. Inquisitive, fiercely affectionate, staunchly opinionated, he sees the world through eyes of wonder and has yet to become jaded by society's cruelty. I know he'll grow up with stories of having been made to feel 'other' because of the color of his skin. I want to teach him that, though life's unfair, he sti ...more
Hardcover, 151 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by IVP
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Average rating 4.60  · 
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Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review is also published on Medium:

Jasmine Holmes has written a powerful collection of letters to her black son on how the world will see him and gives advice on how he should behave in this world. However, the book of letters is also written for the white evangelical church who tends to ignore the issues of race and justice. Holmes’ book echoes other notable epistles like Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Coates’ Between the World and Me. It also has
Barnabas Piper
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wisdom, courage, and humility make for a wonderful book, and this one is rich with them. Holmes writes beautifully and honestly, and a humble reader will learn much. I learned from her story and perspective, both different from my own. I learned from her parenting and love for her children. I learned from the way she spoke of her husband and her father with love and respect. I learned to see more of a life and a world that I don’t inhabit but need to understand. I learned much of unity in Christ ...more
Matthew Manchester
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Someone said that this book is Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me but filled with hope and the gospel. I found this description to be pretty accurate and helpful.

Holmes writes short letters about her life to her son(s) about skin color, racism, and the church. This book won't be an easy read for two reasons: (1) because of the systemic and uncomfortable issues that she addresses and (2) she is constantly battling tribalism so eventually she'll challenge what you believe.

The only way i
Mallory Drazin
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In “Mother to Son,” Jasmine Holmes further confirms the impression I got, years ago, reading her blog: her literary voice is so very kind. From her vulnerability about motherhood to her continually gracious approach to race and identity, her warmth, wit, and patience shine through. She delivers truth and takes strong stances without ever compromising on empathy.
(Also, I cried a lot. She hits you right in the feelings.)
Her love of storytelling and literature are so evident; I find myself jottin
Rose Elliott
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jasmine is a balanced, thoughtful writer and I have enjoyed following her blog for several years. Her thoughtful and wisdom-filled approach on her blog translates beautifully into her book. Jasmine is honest, but she is not cruel. She does not beat around the bush about real, raw issues but she does not do it for the sake of sensationalism. She is an excellent example of speaking the truth in love. Mother to Son is a gift, not just to Wynn and Jasmine's other son, Langston, but to all who take t ...more
Sarah Wolfe
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*Every* believer should read this book! It's true and fierce and beautiful. ...more
Beth Anne
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
This book packs SO much into just 150 pages. Jasmine Holmes is unabashedly gospel-focused, and does the best job I have ever read of taking racial tension, racial injustice and prejudice, history, family, social media, and pretty much any present day hot button topic and framing it with a Christ first approach. She is relevant and poignant, and her words should make pretty much anyone uncomfortable. She does this with humility, talking through her own issues and urging her son in this series of ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly beautiful book. I’m neither black nor American nor a mother; I’m white, British and a dad! But I learned so much from jasmine Holmes as she writes these letters to her toddler-aged older son, preparing him for life in a complicated and fraught world, especially for black men in the States. She has such wisdom and nuance, all of which seem hard won from years of handling prejudice and ignorance. And to cap it all, she writes with fluency and grace such that reading her is a genuin ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to shout “Amen!” Jasmine lays her vulnerable mom heart bare with these letters to her son and it is a triumph of the Gospel that all of us should read. We need reminding that our identity is in Christ & our unity is in Christ. We are each of us, black/white, male/female placed in this moment in history inside our individual stories in order to further the Gospel.

In addition to the rich theology there is much in the way of practical guidelines for interacting with our brothers & sisters i
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
An exposition of Gospel-identity in a racialized society. I really appreciate that Holmes did not minimize the complexity of the issue. Throughout her book she seeks to acknowledge that yes, race is a construct of the fall that is ultimately an improper place to find identity and yet at the same time, race HAS been constructed in our society and the sin of racism needs to be acknowledged and reckoned with. Holmes makes sure we know & feel the weight of interpersonal and systemic injustices while ...more
Billy Osei
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. You can almost hear her genuine love come through the text not only for her son but for her brothers and sisters in the faith. It pulls the reader, especially non POC to see the complexities and challenges black Christians wrestle with in thought and action. This book allows and enables us to open our ears to the possible burdens and barriers POC may face and gives us an opportunity to be more understanding and patient. We are all one under Christ and there is nothing that shoul ...more
Eli Johnson
The formatting of letters to her son invoking a natural empathy for the reader, Holmes elevates the format further with her candor, tenderness, balanced appeal to justice & mercy, and a gospel-focused lens on the complexities of living as a Black image bearer of God
Melinda Borda
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-books
Part of the reason I read is to learn about other people’s unique experiences. I can only live one life. So I read to see the world through the eyes of others.

I appreciated Jasmine Holmes' book because there’s so much that we have in common. We were both raised in conservative, homeschool families. We’re both Christians. We’re both moms.

With those similarities, I found much in this book that I understand because I’ve experienced it too. The desire for my children to grow up and know the beauty o
Laurel West
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a transracial adoptive parent, honoring my son’s heritage is very, very important to us. Giving sufficient weight to that and going a step further and pointing him to Jesus, even more so! Jasmine has done an incredible job doing just that! Her book is filled with open letters to her son, filled with practical advice, wisdom, and rich with Scripture and Gospel hope. This is one that I will read again and again and recommend to other moms over and over. Well done, Jasmine! Thank you!
I was thrilled to win this on Goodreads, and my elation was not misplaced. For addressing as heavy a topic as race in America, I feel...optimistic? As the author notes, her words are as much to the church as to her son(s) - and they are thought-out, Biblical, nuanced, to-the-point words. I am both encouraged and spurred to ask more of myself. I am broken by the burden and warmed by the love of Jasmine as a black mother.

This was a short but full book. It is needed, you should read it.
Brad Peters
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-rights
I was unfamiliar with this book and its author prior to the book being given to me, ironically, for Fathers Day. I enjoyed the book though at time it was a bit challenging and convicting.

Holmes is a fantastic writer, and this book, a series of letters to her two year old son, has a beautiful lyrical quality to it that made it an enjoyable read. It is not long, and the chapters (letters) are short but each carries a weight to them that the artistry with which she writes does not obscure.

That wei
Chelsey Meissner
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Long overdue read. This book is filled with such tender, sweet, seasoned-with-grace letters to her son. At the same time, there is abundant wisdom, powerful exhortations, and convicting truths and charges to action. I have admired Jasmine so much over the past 5 years that I’ve gotten to know her through our online exchanges. Without her, I don’t think I’d be challenged to think and read more broadly than I was before. She is so incredibly wise and praise God for his work in and through her. Tho ...more
Gina Dalfonzo
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You don't have to be a mom (I'm not) to be touched, inspired, and moved to some serious soul-searching by this book. Jasmine Holmes pulls no punches as she lays out for her little son what he can expect from a world that will too often judge him unfairly and harshly. But along with sober realism, she also offers hope, found in the blessings of his heritage, the faith he will be brought up in, and the hard-earned wisdom of his parents. She lovingly encourages him to find ways to be both honest an ...more
Laura Burdick
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: racial-justice
I have been following Jasmine's online writing for awhile now, and I really appreciate her perspectives so I was excited to read this book. This is a small little book, but packed full of wisdom. Jasmine addresses a series of letters to her young son, in an effort to prepare him to be a wise black Christian man in today's world. She invites the church to read over her shoulder as she writes, and her letters are an example of gracious dialogue around contentious issues. Reading this book is an ex ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thankful for this window into a world and experience so different from my own (and yet, in other ways, so similar). The author's love and care for her children seeps through every page, and as much as I'd like to be shocked by the stories she recounts of her own childhood experiences, I've come to learn in recent years how commonplace they are. Recommended even for readers who wouldn't seem to fit into the primary target audience. (Like me.) ...more
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Over the last couple of years, I’ve read several books on race and justice in America. If you’re someone who cares about these topics and you’re looking for a starting point to learn more, this is the one I would recommend. It is balanced, personal, gospel-oriented, and hopeful.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful! Everyone should read this.
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-issues
5 stars. Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope. Jasmine writes this book as a series of letters to her oldest son and it is a REALLY GOOD read. I found myself highlighting parenting ideas that I want to emulate for my kiddos, Black authors/poets/thought leaders I want to look up and learn more about, and sound Biblical truth. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to broaden their understanding of what it is like to be Black in America, Christians who want to learn to love o ...more
Tammy Anderson
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought this book was pretty good. Honestly, I feel like I should probably read it again sometime in the future because I'm not sure I quite grasped all the points the author was trying to make. The main thing I did take away from this book, however, was that the author's main intention seemed to be to point her son towards Christ, and handling tough situations and conversations regarding race the way He would like them to be handled. And that the most important identity we have as Christians ...more
Megan Hamby
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-read-in-2020
I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Netgalley. I cried reading Jasmine’s words to her son. In one letter she wrote, “He made you a little black boy on purpose. He stuck you into this particular moment of history with intention. I am not your mama on accident.”

I am an adoptive mother—a white mother raising a beautiful black boy. And while I know it’s not an accident that I’m his mother, I realize there will be things he experiences in his life that my husband and I will not be
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the sort of book that I really need to sit on a while longer to actually be able to write a decent review of it. But there are other people waiting for it and back to the library it must go.

We (white people) are often told to listen if we want to try to understand what life is like for minorities in our society. And Holmes' letters to her son give us a fly-on-the-wall sort of view into her experience as a black woman and a black mom and her hopes, dreams, and admonishments for her son.
Rachel Darnall
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing

As soon as I knew that Jasmine Holmes was writing a book, I knew I would be buying it.

Jasmine and I “met” on twitter a few years ago. I recognized her name in connection with her very famous dad, Voddie Baucham, but I soon came to know her as a fiercely honest, doggedly compassionate Christian woman who was deeply motivated to get at the truth - the whole truth - even when it was less than popular. She was willing to turn the soil of church culture, even when doing so unearthed things that were
Ashley Hoss
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book was very well written. Simple, without being simplistic, Jasmine’s writing style is approachable for mature and new Christians alike. It was encouraging for me to read, as someone who is biracial and often has felt torn between two worlds. Jasmine very clearly and eloquently communicates the Gospel and why it calls us to action. Very thankful for this book to be written!
Jim Savastio
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very winsome, engaging, convicting, heartbreaking in parts, but also hopeful series of letters of a Christian mother to her African-American son. This is not an easy book to put into one particular category. As middle-age white male, I appreciated the gentle tone of her calls to listen and learn.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I followed the release of this book since it was first announced with avid interest both on Twitter and Instagram. In the past few years, I’ve studied abroad in Europe and moved to a different area of the US where the racial mix is different from what I experienced growing up. Because of these two experiences, I’ve been especially hungry for instruction to help me bridge gaps in understanding how to engage some of the messier issues dealing with identity politics and a Christian understanding of ...more
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