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Bridget Shevlin
Culture

New Reads From Your Favorite Sister Scribes

Terry McMillan, jessica Care moore and others release female-forward works that celebrate and plumb our passions, possibilities and complexities.

If you’re in the mood for powerful and inspirational works that celebrate women of color, we’ve got some great recommendations. Each of these reads speaks to what we love — or are working to love — about ourselves. Bookmark these selections to explore the uniqueness of our beauty, our resilience in the face of tragedy, our loyalty to those we love, our courage in standing up for what is right and our ability to find joy at any age.

So We Can Glow, by Leesa Cross-Smith
This collection of 42 short stories spans ages and geography to map the thoughts and emotions of women and girls. Romance blossoms from a meeting in a market produce aisle. A woman escapes into fantasy to survive crushing grief. Cult members are consumed by passion for a charismatic man. Some tales are narrated, others told through texts or emails. Stories of bad behavior, obsession, motherhood, desire and loss often have at their center the loving bonds between girlfriends, mothers and daughters. Whether they serve as inspiration or warnings, these stories remind us of the exhilarating possibilities that arise from being fun-loving, fearless, humanly flawed — and female. They offer us permission to not take ourselves too seriously and to laugh, let go and move on so we can glow — and grow.
Grand Central Books, March 10

Lakewood, by Megan Giddings
This fresh and provocative debut novel about class and race is the thrilling story of a young woman forced to make a difficult moral decision. Lena Johnson’s loyalty to her working-class family compels her to drop out of college. She must help keep the family afloat in the wake of her grandmother’s death and the revelation of crushing debt. She accepts an incredible job offer in the small town of Lakewood, Michigan. It offers free housing and health care along with a hefty paycheck — if she’s willing to keep the company’s secrets. The breakthrough drugs under development promise to do great things for the world. But do they really? “Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation — part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” notes the publisher.Lena’s dilemma makes us consider what we would do if faced with a choice between what’s right and what’s economically necessary.
Amistad, March 24

We Want Our Bodies Back, by jessica Care moore
The author wrote the title work of this poetry collection in memory of Sandra Bland and performed it for the first time in Ferguson, Missouri, to support the family of slain teenager Michael Brown. “We Want Our Bodies Back is a call to action, a prayer, for women who’ve lost family members, our children, and even our own lives to unjustified police violence and profiling,” she has written. In this new work, the celebrated poet, performer, activist and critic reclaims our right to take up space, work our magic and push back against patriarchy, hate and misogynoir. The verses in We Want Our Bodies Backspeak to all Black women — curvy or slender, confident or shy, living in bodies that feel different, move different and are looked at different. But the poems also look beyond our physical forms to the experiences that shape us, as well as how we show up and shape the world in areas such as business and sports. Her unflinching gaze affirms our resilience, our agency, our autonomy — and our anger.
Amistad, March 31*

It’s Not All Downhill From Here, by Terry McMillan
Life deals Loretha Curry a major blow on the eve of her 68th birthday, and the vibrant head of a beauty-supply empire needs the help of her friends to rewrite the next chapter of her life. Those of us who have been fans of McMillan’s irreverent and gut-real writing since Mama and Waiting to Exhale know she’s the girlfriend griot of Gen X and boomer sisters. “I write about what breaks my heart. What I don’t understand. And what I wish I could change,” the New York Times bestselling author has observed. She’s helped us explore existential questions from “Who will love me?” to “Where did I go wrong?” to “When is it my turn?” In her latest novel, we’re invited to ponder “What’s next?”
Ballantine, March 31

*Date has been updated

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