New Book Recommendations and Reviews from the African American Literature Book Club

By Troy Johnson

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Invisibility is all Donte wishes for after moving from New York to Massachusetts. The move places him in a war against people blinded by racism and colorism. How can he win such a battle especially when everything in his new town is binary? Fortunately for Donte, he finds the answer within himself!Born of a white father and a black mother, Donte is extremely darker than his light-skinned brother Trey, and faces substantial discrimination at Middlefield Prep. His schoolmates label him “black brother” and even with Trey’s support he is treated like an outcast. More ▶
Book of Letters by Mary J. Taylor
Mary J. Taylor’s Book Of Letters is just that, a book of letters from the Old School of storytelling. The series of sepia cultural flashbacks moves through a wide range of emotions, historical tidbits, family memories, and societal observations. Every reader of this nonfictional scrapbook will delight in the warmth, empathy, and the lack of pretense of this griot, who wishes to share the experiences and insights from her years with the young.In her debut collection of letters, Taylor, knows the value of a good story, balancing an entertaining narrative with an informed view of an elder who was one of Black America’s “Greatest Generation,” settling in hostile territory during the Great Migration. The author has seen much and puts the readers into the joys and rigors of segregated rural southern life with every sentence of this book. This is a book of love and racial pride. It is not one of bitterness, anger, or scores to settle. More ▶
It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan
Loretha Curry’s life is full. A little crowded sometimes, but full indeed. On the eve of her sixty-eighth birthday, she has a booming beauty-supply empire, a gaggle of lifelong friends, and a husband whose moves still surprise. True, she’s carrying a few more pounds than she should be, but Loretha is not one of those women who think her best days are behind her—and she’s determined to prove wrong her mother, her twin sister, and everyone else with that outdated view of aging wrong. It’s not all downhill from here.But when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha will have to summon all her strength, resourcefulness, and determination to keep on thriving, pursue joy, heal old wounds, and chart new paths. With a little help from her friends, of course.
Navigate Your Stars by Jesmyn Ward
A revelatory, uplifting, and gorgeously illustrated meditation on dedication, hard work, and the power of perseverance from the beloved, New York Times bestselling, and two-time National Book Award-winning Jesmyn Ward.For Tulane University’s 2018 commencement, Jesmyn Ward delivered a stirring speech about the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others. Speaking about the challenges she and her family overcame, Ward inspired everyone in the audience with her meditation on tenacity in the face of hardship. Now, in book form, Ward’s moving words will inspire readers as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives, whether, like Ward, they are the first in their families to graduate from college or are preceded by generations, or whether they are embarking on a different kind of journey later in life.
Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems by Wanda Coleman
A voice the world needs — the award-winning, groundbreaking, poet Wanda Coleman. Editor Terrance Hayes has selected more than 130 poems, spanning four decades, for this powerful gathering of Coleman’s work that bestselling author Mary Karr has called, “words to crack you open and heal you where it counts.”“As a poet, mother, Los Angeles native, black woman, essayist, and more, Wanda Coleman is a master of honesty. Her writing is an artifact of a life defined by brilliance, outspokenness, and survival.” —Courtney Taylor, SLICE
Here and Now by Kimberla Lawson Roby
This powerful classic was published over 20 years ago by New York Times bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby. It tells the story of two sisters, as different as night and day, who must find the light in each other amid their darkest times …Because Kimberla was never comfortable with the idea of including profanity or detailed sex scenes in her books, she ultimately made the decision to remove it from the newly released paperback edition of Here and Now. The story-line itself, however, has remained the same. Enjoy the revised version which benefits from two decades of wisdom and the honing of craft.
Support Indie Book Stores and Websites
Loyalty Books
Opened in 2019, Loyalty is an Independent Bookstore serving Petworth, DC and Silver Spring, MD.“We like books. We like you. And we’re ready to bring the best books and events to our community. We are aiming to be the Mid-Atlantic’s neighborhood spot for wonderful books and unique home goods, gifts, and programming. Our staff and our selection highlight the diverse voices and creatives that make our communities great. When we think about what to feature in our store we focus on how we live in our homes.”
Umoja Books and Products
The website launched in 2017, “the inspiration of Umoja Books resulted from the need of having an African American owned bookstore in Lafayette, LA. It started with offering books written by African Americans, and it has now blossomed in offering other items created by African Americans such as tshirts, herbal supplements, personal care products, Black fraternity and sorority items, bible covers, tote bags, and much more.”
Obscene Rhetoric by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
Obscene Rhetoric by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.
“Every national disaster or threat evokes a series of mantras, slogans, maxims, and adages from our leaders and would-be leaders. These statements are patently untrue. These axioms are meat to mislead, misguide, and hide the brutal realities of our situations. They are obscene propaganda in support of the status quo. Here are a few.”
—Frederick K. Foote, Jr., April 4, 2020We are all in the same boatWe are not in the same damn boat.
My boat suffers from hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, breathing disabilities, and sails in rough seas with few ports … More ▶

Peace and Love,
Troy Johnson
Founder & Webmaster,