Friday, April 12, 2019

Book Review: “Before you suffocate your own fool self” by author, Danielle Evans

Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulations Supervisor at the Windham Public Library

Perhaps it will show my privilege when I say that this book made me see the world in ways I hadn’t before. Evans’ stories center around young, smart black women. Every story revealed a little something I hadn’t thought about because I hadn’t had to. And yet, the stories are delivered gently, like chats between college friends. The voice in these stories is deeply engaging, personal, honest.

Two stories in particular moved me. In the first, Angel and Laura share an apartment and are friends until Laura, who is white, begins selling her eggs in order to finance her designer wardrobe. Angel, who is black, can’t. She says, “If they had wanted black babies…they would have just adopted.”

The second story that made me catch my breath was the last one, in which two high school cheerleaders, one white and one black, discuss playing a prank on the school. The white girl sees it as just a way to have fun, but the black girl objects. She says white kids play pranks, black kids get felonies.

If it sounds like this collection is too preachy, it isn’t. These are some of the best stories I’ve read in a long time. They are funny, poignant, open, and yes, provocative. These are stories of characters who get in over their heads, love fiercely, try hard and sometimes fail hard. Stories everyone can relate to, in other words.

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