Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Coffee Will Make You Black” as Want to Read:
Coffee Will Make You Black
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Coffee Will Make You Black

(Stevie Stevenson #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  5,114 ratings  ·  244 reviews
Set on Chicago's Southside in the mid-to-late 60s, Coffee Will Make You Black is the moving and entertaining tale of Jean "Stevie" Stevenson, a young black woman growing up through the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The novel opens at a time when, for black families, seeing a black person on television was an event; when expressions like "I don't want nothing blac ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 1995)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Coffee Will Make You Black, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Lou Cook Loved this book! I think it's time to re-read it! And I hear it is being made into a movie!…moreLoved this book! I think it's time to re-read it! And I hear it is being made into a movie!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,114 ratings  ·  244 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Coffee Will Make You Black
Nancy
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nancy by: Mayra Dole
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I couldn’t resist the title. When I was little, my mom used to give me my own mug with a little bit of Café Bustelo and a lot of sugar. It made me feel pretty grown up that I was drinking coffee with my parents. My grandmother would look at me disapprovingly and say, “coffee will make you black.” Well, obviously it wasn’t working, so I would hand my empty mug back to my mom and ask for a refill. Then she would tell me that too much coffee is no good for you. But if it m
...more
Obsidian
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I struggled with what to write about this book because so many things were going on that I feel like I would need a flowchart to explain how everything was connected. So many things popped up while reading this book for me and I a lot of different memories running through my brain about my own family.

I thought that this book by April Sinclair was brilliant. Overall, I loved this book. There were some minor issues that I had, but not enough to rate the book below five stars.

I emphasized with the
...more
Ian
Coffee Will Make You Black works on many different levels. As a reader, you can take as little or as much as you want from the book. It can be a book to read on the beach, or if you want it to, it can challenge you on a much deeper level.

It's the coming of age story of a young girl growing up on the Southside of Chicago. She's just trying to get by, to find out who she is but if you are an African American woman there is always an extra level to the challenges you face.

I loved this book. It wi
...more
Caroline
This book reminded me of my childhood. I grew up very sheltered with my parents, especially my Mom, keeping me away from everything and everyone she deemed a bad influence. My neighbors were a White and Malaysian couple. The black girls in school would call me a 'white girl' and shun me. So when I made my first Black friend, who happened to be from the projects, I wanted to emulate everything she did to fit in with the other black girls in school. The newest slang, the newest dances, know biggie ...more
Bina
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
April Sinclair’s Coffee Will Make You Black is the coming-of-age story of young Jean “Stevie” Stevenson who grows up in the Chicago Southside of the 1960s, in the midst of the Black Power and Civil Rights movements. As a bildungsroman, the novel follows Stevie from age eleven until seventeen and her journey of self-discovery as well as her and her community’s place in the US. If, like me, you’re not from the US, the title may have you confused. Coffe will make you Black is explained by Stevie’s ...more
Mahoghani 23
The storyline takes place in the early sixties and beginning of seventies. Jean Stevenson better known as Stevie, is a young girl growing up when the color of your skin was really important in the black community and everyone was in unrest due to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The book reiterates what I've heard growing up but not providing Sufficient info that would substantiate their beliefs. This book could have been any black child's life during that era. All the dark skin j
...more
Misskittykilpatrick
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. The title of this book made me smile and took me back to my childhood. It made me remember that as a child I was not allowed to drink coffee and when I asked my parents why I couldn't have it, my grandparents would say, 'Coffee will make you black,' which never made sense to me because ummmm, I am black lol. We were only allowed to drink hot cocoa.

Jean's mother is so much like my mother. When she does not want to answer a question she goes into 'avoidance mode' and
...more
Monica
A good friend gave me this book over 10 years ago to read (used and already raggedy...lol). I can't remember who. The author lived in San Francisco at that time, so they were pushing a local author of interest. Good coming of age story of a young black girl ages 12-18 growing up in the late 60s. This book was well done with the characters well drawn. I loved Stevie's family and friends. I sympathized with the angst and confusion she had growing up. I shared many of her experiences or at least si ...more
Tianna
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 50-books-in-2010
This was a good one. A couple of places have this book classified as LGBT teen fiction, but I don't think I'd go that far. Honestly, it sounded more like your standard teen fiction. The LGBT issue was raised now and then, but it certainly wasn't a focal point IMO. Maybe that's just because I had periods in my life where I was just as sexually confused and questioning like Stevie, so I didn't even notice all the gayness.

A lot about Stevie's childhood reminded me of my own. Her desire to fit in of
...more
Aubrey
If you're black you don't have to march to pay dues, Diane. You pay dues just by breathing.
This was an unexpectedly holistic delight. it is technically YA, but it's YA that doesn't pretend everyone had a PG/PG-13 childhood, and so it rings more true in a historical fiction sense (1960s-early 1970s Chicago, USA) than most middle/high school narratives do. It's a coming of age, but it's a real, black, and queer coming of age, replete with tackling antiblackness, queerphobia, Malcolm X, MLK, se
...more
Velvet
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The smart, adventurous heroine of Sinclair's funny, fresh first novel about growing up African-American in 1960s Chicago, picks her way through minefields of advice from her mother's generation while searching for a place in her own. She outgrows an early obsession with good hair and the right skin color (fudge? Cracker Jack? pecan? paper bag?) to discover politics and self-respect after Martin Luther King is murdered. Sinclair writes like Terry McMillan's kid sister, in earthy, slangy dialogue ...more
Nina
This book has been in my TBR pile for almost twenty years. I definitely would have enjoyed it as a child but I can also appreciate it as an adult (and resident of Chicago).
Charmer (+ Vibes Only)
Black is Beautiful!!!
When your daughter comes to you and asks you about virginity, you answer her question as truthfully and innocently as you can. You don't want her to learn the wrong things from the wrong people. I didn't like Stevie's mom. These little girls were way to grown. Always talking about boys rubbing up against them. They are too young for that. What in the world is peeing with a boy? I must've missed that some how.
I loved every time somebody black was on t.v. Stevie's little brot
...more
Trey
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anna Kay
More like 3.5 stars. It was definitely different from my normal reads, which was kind of the point. My reading life has kind of stagnated over the last year, into mostly comic books and barely anything else to add variety. I used to read all sorts of things and I thought a different viewpoint of the world would be interesting. Also, the experience of growing up as a black teenage girl, in the late 1960s (civil rights movements, riots, assassinations of MLK and the Kennedy bros, etc.) was a tumul ...more
Jeremy Preacher
Jan 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: general-fiction
I read the first chapter, in which the only thing discussed are comparative skin tones, and had to put it aside and read something else. Then, being stubborn, I picked it up again and bulled on through.

Ok, first of all, I am almost never a fan of mainstream books narrated by pre-teens. (Genre books do this shockingly well, for reasons that people have written theses about.) But I barely made it past the opening "conflict," in which there is a terrible misunderstanding because the poor girl doesn
...more
Shauna
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have loved to read this growing up. When I was young I devoured light coming-of-age YA novels, particularly anything by Judy Blume. I saw them as potential roadmaps by which to live my preteen life. But it took reading this one to make me realize that none of those YA books I read in my youth were told from the perspective of a black girl. (Unless you counted the American Girl books about Addy. But, uh, Addy was too busy living life as a runaway slave to worry about her first period). As ...more
Alisha
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: afro-lit
This rating is more like a 3.8 or 3.9.


Extremely good, intriguing read. I couldn't put it down most of the time. The protagonist, Stevie's, experience with the rage and changing of the times was realistic.

I also related to Stevie and her life probably more than I have related to any other main character in a book. Struggling to find real friends, handle your family, accept your race, become a girl all the guys want. All the while growing into yourself as a self-aware female. Lots of fear, confu
...more
Diana
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, I read this book a long long time ago and I needed to read it again because I couldn't remember anything about it. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. What a great book! I gave it five stars because this book made me feel something. Sometimes you read a book and afterwards you're like, okay well that's that and then other times you read a book and you actually sit there and think about it. This book made me long for things and made me remember some things I would rather forget. It's a coming o ...more
Chalida
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
stevie is such a great character. you have to love her.
Monique Judge
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was as good as I remember it being the first time.
Mary Pagones
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book many times when I was in my early twenties, and it just simply flew by on this reread. I love the narrator Stevie so much, and relate to her struggles--she's got such a reputation as a good girl, even when she's bad, she always gets special admonishment because no one would expect such as thing of her. She's excited to finally be friends with a "bad" girl, only to be told by the girl's mother how relieved she is that her daughter's finally making friends with decent people.

The b
...more
Nicolas Chinardet
Jean Eloise (known to all as Stevie) is a young black girl in the first half of her teens growing up in a reasonably affluent family in Chicago in the late 1960's. Her naivety is compounded by lack of information, and strict social roles and expectations, yet she is a smart and kind girl and somehow manages to find her way to some sort of truth about herself. The country, wracked by Civil Rights unrest, follows a similar, if slower and probably less successful process.

Apparently light-hearted a
...more
J. Brendan
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very sweet coming of age story of a Black teen in the late 1960s. Jean "Stevie" Stevenson navigates the class politics of being a janitor's daughter, her burgeoning possibly queer sexual desires, her growing sense of Black pride, and the eternal adolescent issues of trying to fit in. This is episodic as it moves through her high school years but as the story went I grew to like Stevie and I am excited to catch up with her in Sinclair's second book. ...more
Mimi S
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great coming of age story. A definite page turner. Will be reading the sequel. Stevie is a typical teen looking for answers that parents and adults back in the 60s weren’t prepared to give. Race relations and sexism issues felt like they mirrored today’s times, goes to show some things never change.
Jhosy
Aug 04, 2019 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
must read again at another time
LeeTravelGoddess
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
LOL!! This is a fun book— there is no depth just good, surface level fun!
Meg Petersen
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't know how I had missed this delightful book. Highly recommended. ...more
Aziz Qaissi
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
April Sinclair’s Coffee Will Make you Black can be classified as coming-of-the-age fiction. Set in the 60s, the novel tells the story of an African American 16-year-old girl whose name is Stevenson, or simply, Stevie. It’s told from a 16-year-old Afro-American girl perspective. It’s a debut novel and is the first part of another sequel that followed it. It was published in 1994. Right my age!

The novel mainly reveals how black people’s life looked like in 60s’ America, and how students at high sc
...more
Danielle
Coffee Will Make You Black follows Jean "Stevie" Stevenson through junior high and high school in the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s. Stevie navigates puberty and boys and friends, and also a crush on the (white) school nurse, as well as race pride and prejudice. One great moment comes when Stevie's mom sees that someone has spray painted "Black is Beautiful" on the side of a building and she's completely awestruck. She had grown up using the terms negro and colored, and had never heard blac ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Invisible Life
  • A Day Late and a Dollar Short
  • How Stella Got Her Groove Back
  • Disappearing Acts
  • Your Blues Ain't Like Mine
  • What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (Idlewild, #1)
  • Mama
  • God Don't Like Ugly (God Don't Like Ugly, #1)
  • Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made
  • The Women of Brewster Place
  • Just as I Am
  • Waiting to Exhale (Waiting To Exhale #1)
  • Sugar (Sugar Lacey, #1)
  • Chaser
  • Milk in My Coffee
  • Big Girls Don't Cry
  • Red Light Wives
  • Tumbling
See similar books…
See top shelves…
107 followers
April Sinclair was born and grew up in Chicago during the times of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As a young black woman during and after these times, she began to take advantage of her experiences along with her artistic talents to become an active member in her community. She has worked for over 15 years in community service programs, has directed a countywide hunger coalition, and ...more

Other books in the series

Stevie Stevenson (3 books)
  • Ain't Gonna Be the Same Fool Twice
  • I Left My Back Door Open

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
21 likes · 3 comments
“It was so quiet at our table you could've heard a rat piss on cotton.” 4 likes
“Mama paused. “Sometimes, your soul looks back and wonders how you got over.” 1 likes
More quotes…