Our featured books this week are brand new in paperback: The Good Negress by A.J. Verdelle and We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge.
ometimes the greatest source of power is language, especially for the disadvantaged. The naming of names, the brandishing of labels, can unify or divide, create an us or a them. This enduring, often painful truth is at the heart of A. J. Verdelle’s wise, poignant debut. Twenty years after its initial publication, The Good Negress continues to be an important part of the literary canon, as relevant and necessary as ever.
Set in 1960s Detroit, the novel focuses on young Denise Palms, who moves to Detroit to reunite with her mother, new stepfather, and two older brothers. Raised mostly by her grandmother in rural Virginia, Denise’s role in Detroit is to cook, clean, go to school, and take care of her mother’s baby when it comes.But an idealistic, demanding teacher opens Denise’s eyes to a future she’s never considered. When her two worlds begin to clash, Denise must decide if she will determine her own way forward.
Called “Truly extraordinary” by Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison, The Good Negress is the winner of the Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a PEN/Faulkner Finalist, and a Quality Paperback Book Club Selection.
This shattering novel is filled with storytelling sleight of hand. What appears to be a story of mothers and daughters, of sisterhood put to the test, of adolescent love and grown-up misconduct, and of history’s long reach, becomes a provocative and compelling exploration of America’s failure to find a language to talk about race.
Janet Maslin of The New York Times calls We Love You, Charlie Freeman, “terrifically auspicious. . . Ms. Greenidge has charted an ambitious course for a book that begins so mock-innocently.” She tabbed it as one of the top books of 2016.
We Love You, Charlie Freeman has been celebrated by Essence, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed.com.