Although Troy over at AALBC.com claims that “The 2014 NAACP Image Award Winners and Nominees for Literature were perhaps the best crop of books ever nominated,” I continue to wonder who’s on their nominations committee. My first eye-roll occurred when I saw A Deeper Love Inside: The Porscha Santiaga Story by Sister Souljah on the list. Definitely not on my favorite reads list (see review). The winners (vs the nominees), however, did tempt my curiosity:
Fiction Winner – Anybody’s Daughter by Pamela Samuels Young
Based on the real-life horrors faced by thousands of girls, award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young takes readers deep inside the disturbing world of child sex trafficking in a fast-paced thriller that educates as much as it entertains. Thirteen-year-old Brianna Walker is ecstatic. She’s about to sneak off to meet her first real boyfriend—a boyfriend she met on Facebook. But Brianna is in for a horrifying surprise because her boyfriend doesn’t exist. Instead, Brianna unwittingly becomes the captive of a ring of drug dealers- turned-human traffickers who prey on lonely girls from dysfunctional homes. But they’ve made a big mistake in targeting Brianna because she doesn’t meet either of those criteria. Brianna’s Uncle Dre, a man with his own criminal past, is determined to find the niece who is more like a daughter to him.
Non-Fiction Winner – Envisioning Emancipation:Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer
In their pioneering book, Envisioning Emancipation, renowned photographic historian Deborah Willis and historian of slavery Barbara Krauthamer have amassed 150 photographs – some never before published – from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s. The authors vividly display the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation, providing a perspective on freedom and slavery and a way to understand the photos as documents of engagement, action, struggle, and aspiration. Filled with powerful images of lives too often ignored or erased from historical records, Envisioning Emancipation will be a keepsake for many years to come.
Debut Author – Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home by Sheri Booker
Sheri Booker was only fifteen years old when she started working at Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore. She had no idea that her summer job would become nine years of immersion in a hidden world. Reeling from the death of her beloved great aunt, she found comfort in the funeral home, and soon has the run of the place, from its sacred chapels to the terrifying embalming room. With AIDS and gang violence threatening to wipe out a generation of black men, Wylie was never short on business. As families came together to bury one of their own, Booker was privy to their most intimate moments of grief and despair. But along with the sadness, Booker encountered moments of dark humor: brawls between mistresses and widows, and car crashes at McDonald’s with dead bodies in tow. While she never got over her terror of the embalming room, Booker learned to expect the unexpected and to never, ever cry.
Biography / Autobiography – The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement. Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who, with a single act, birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks’s politics and years of activism. She shows readers how this civil rights movement radical sought—for more than a half a century—to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice.
Instructional – The Vegucation of Robin: How Real Food Saved My Life by Robin Quivers
Known for her levelheaded, deadpan comebacks to Howard Stern’s often outrageous banter, Robin Quivers is a force of nature. Yet few people know about her struggles with food—especially the high-fat, high-sugar, high-cholesterol, highly addictive foods that doomed many of her relatives to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, she knew it was time to stop her slow slide into bad health. Quivers took a stand in her personal nutrition battle and emerged victorious thanks to a plant-based diet. On her sometimes rocky, though endearingly hysterical, path to newfound health, Quivers discovered the power of the produce aisle in changing her body and her mindset. By filling up on soul-quenching, cell-loving vegetables instead of damaging animal products and processed foods, Quivers left behind the injuries, aches, and pains that had plagued her for twenty years. Charting her inspiring road to wellness, The Vegucation of Robin describes her transformation inside and out, and, including ninety of her favorite vegan recipes, she encourages readers to join her in putting their health first.
Poetry – Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers by Frank X Walker
Around the void left by the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963, the poems in this collection speak, unleashing the strong emotions both before and after the moment of assassination. Poems take on the voices of Evers’s widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and each of De La Beckwith’s two wives. Except for the book’s title,”Turn me loose,” which were his final words, Evers remains in this collection silent. Yet the poems accumulate facets of the love and hate with which others saw this man, unghosting him in a way that only imagination makes possible.
Truthfully, I don’t have a better list of books or nominees, so I can’t speak ill or spread my negativity. So, maybe I’ll add one or two of these titles to my reading list. Maybe one of them will even get a separate blog post of their own. Maybe. In the meantime, happy reading, y’all.