Category Archives: Memoir

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery in North Carolina and escaped to the North in 1842. In 1861, this book, recounting her experiences in slavery and eventual escape was published under the pseudonym Linda Brent (and, as Linda is the … Continue reading

Posted in History, Memoir | 6 Comments

Twelve Years a Slave

Solomon Northup was a free black man who lived his whole life in New York until, in 1841, he took a job as a traveling musician. This job landed him in Washington, DC, where, despite possessing papers showing he was … Continue reading

Posted in Classics, Memoir, Nonfiction | 4 Comments

Educated

Tara Westover grew up in the mountains of Idaho. Suspicious of the government and committed to an extreme version of the Mormon faith, her parents home-schooled Tara and her siblings, although there was little structure or actual education to their … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 9 Comments

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was born a slave named Isabella in — or around, there weren’t records kept — 1797, in Ulster County, New York. She was owned by a Dutch family until she was nine, and when she was sold to … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 9 Comments

Just Mercy

I read Just Mercy with my book group, but I’ve been wanting to read it for quite a while. This is Bryan Stevenson’s memoir about how he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, which struggles against racial injustice in the criminal … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 5 Comments

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming is only the second book I’ve read by Jacqueline Woodson. (The first, her spectacular picture book Show Way, is about seven generations of the women of an African-American family, from slavery through civil rights, and the instructions … Continue reading

Posted in Children's / YA Lit, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry | 11 Comments

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

In 2009, Susannah Cahalan was 24 years old and well into an exciting and successful career as a journalist at the New York Post. And then she noticed what looked like a bug bite on her arm. That was followed by a … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 12 Comments

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

Sherman Alexie’s new memoir is a combination of prose and poetry reflecting on his relationship with his parents, especially his mother; his childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation; and his adult life away from the reservation. The emotions he expresses … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 6 Comments

To the Is-Land

The first volume of Janet Frame’s autobiography begins with a chapter called In the Second Place: From the first place of liquid darkness, within the second place of air and light, I set down the following record with its mixture … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction | 2 Comments

Dimestore: A Writer’s Life

When I was in college and away from my rural southwest Virginia home, I discovered the novels of Lee Smith. Although her hometown of Grundy was a couple hundred miles west of my hometown, her writing felt culturally close to … Continue reading

Posted in Memoir, Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 6 Comments