February is the shortest month of the year, especially since 2022 does not benefit from a leap day. The brevity of this winter month may pose a challenge to the lofty reading goals of many – achieved in the spirit of the New Year – as homework for spring classes piles up. However, a quality book provides a well-deserved respite from the relentless academic routine during what promises to be a cold and dreary month.
Plus, there’s a lot to celebrate this month. Between Valentine’s Day on February 14 and Black History Month which spans the entire month of February, this month offers many opportunities to appreciate the work of black authors, both old and new. , and discover love in all its beauty and depth from another angle. . The February book club picks explore the power of love, ranging from the family genre to the romantic genre, and detail the different realities faced by those navigating emotional relationships.
“Girl, woman, other” by Bernardine Evaristo
Bernardine Evaristo, one of Britain’s most famous black authors, has been awarded the 2019 Booker Prize for ‘Girl, Woman, Other’, which is her eighth work of fiction. Similar to his previous seven books, this novel explores aspects of the African Diaspora – the entirety of communities around the world that are descended from people of African origin. Evaristo pays particular attention to the interconnectedness of black British women’s struggles to carve out a place for themselves in society. The complexity of friendships and relationships between black women in contemporary Britain is a recurring theme, as ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ strives to depict how politics permeates and shapes identity.
The plot of the story unfolds from the perspective of several characters who seem to live in worlds apart, despite all residing in Britain at the same time. Amma, a black lesbian playwright enjoying her recent fame, is the central character – her narrative serves as a starting point from which typically different voices begin to ring. Amma’s daughter, Yazz, struggles with being the product of a modern, unconventional relationship. , while Amma’s friend Dominique navigates an abusive relationship. Characters move in and out freely throughout the novel – fast-paced despite its length, thanks to Evaristo’s fluid, poetic writing style – but common aspects of their identities persist in each other’s stories.
“An American Wedding” by Tayari Jones
Tayari Jones’ fourth novel, “An American Marriage,” received widespread acclaim when it was released in 2018, received an NAACP Image Award, and was a quick shortlist for Oprah’s Book Club. After months of studying the intersection of criminal justice and the race, Jones set out to write a book focused on a person’s encounter with the criminal justice system and the ramifications it has for loved ones. . “An American Marriage” is more complex than a love story, as the three main characters are simultaneously bound and separated by forces over which they have no control.
The novel follows Celestial and Roy, a newly married black couple who seem to have a promising future. However, their life falls apart when Roy is falsely accused of a crime Celestial knows he did not commit and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Despite her fiercely independent nature, Celestial finds herself alone and turns to Andre, her childhood best friend and best man at her wedding, for help. The story unfolds from the perspective of each main character, shaping a harrowing tale of love, injustice and betrayal.
“The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation” by Anna Malaika Tubbs
Scholar Anna Malaika Tubbs’ literary debut quickly became a New York Times bestseller, and for good reason. It’s hard to believe such a book was just released in 2021 given the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin in American history. However, much of Tubbs’ novel hinges on erasing the women who raised these legendary men – relegated to the footnotes of their sons’ lives not just as mothers, but as marginalized black women. by society as a whole.
Spanning some 250 pages, ‘The Three Mothers’ reimagines the lives of Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin, highlighting the inextricable connection between the example they set for their sons and the monumental figures their sons are. become. Each of these women was active in the fight against injustice through and outside the education of their sons – Alberta created women’s coalitions, Louise worked as a branch secretary for the black nationalist organization of Marcus Garvey and Berdis wrote letters urging his son to choose love and forgiveness over hate. . Tubbs’ novel masterfully connects the lives of these women, with the finished product a moving tribute to the strength of mothers’ love.