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For September, Jenna Bush Hager picked "Transcendent Kingdom" by Yaa Gyasi as her Read WIth Jenna pick.
The book, which made The New York Times Best Sellers list, tells the story of a Ghanian family after they immigrate to Alabama.
The protagonist, Gifty, is researching the brain at Stanford University as a means of making sense of the suffering she has experienced in her own life. Her brother, Nana, had been prescribed OxyContin for an ankle injury that led to an opioid addiction. Readers learn that he passed away following a heroin overdose. Meanwhile, Gifty's gravely depressed mother is living in her bed. In her search for answers, she also finds herself pulled toward the evangelical faith in which she was raised.
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If this book spoke to you, Gyasi has five book recommendations for readers to pick up next.
This gripping story gives a peek into the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina in rural, impoverished Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. Told over 12 days, Esch, 14 and pregnant, her three brothers, Randall, Junior and Skeetah, and their absent alcoholic father prepare to face the devastating storm.
The children must sacrifice for one another and band together to survive. It is a heart-wrenching yet big-hearted exploration of the devastating realities of poverty in the face of a category 5 hurricane.
Published in 1992, "Lost in the City" is the first book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones. It's a collection of 14 stories about the lives of Black men and women in Washington, D.C.
Jones' book tells the powerful tales of ordinary people living in the historic city. The stories inspire empathy and remind readers of the humanity of all people.
Hartman's "Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments" is a biography of young urban Black women and their experiences in the early 20th century.
As social upheaval challenged traditional Victorian beliefs held across the United States, young urban Black women underwent a revolution of their own. They challenged the life of domestic service and the second-class citizenship they were being offered. They created new forms of intimacy and kinship, revised the meaning of marriage and experimented with their own lives.
This resurrection of forgotten history shows how young Black women shaped the modern urban landscape.
Robin Coste Lewis' debut book, "Voyage of the Sable Venus" is a collection of three poems that comment on race, gender, power and the visual representation of Black women through history. The title piece, positioned in between two bookend poems, is a narrative made up entirely of the titles of artworks featuring the Black female body from ancient times to the present.
The collection forces the reader to question racial constructs and consider their origins in history.
Another debut book, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's a collection of stories explores what it's like to be young and Black in America. It tackles racism, cultural unrest and consumerism with stories ranging from satirical to heart-wrenching. Underlying the book's honesty is a message of hope.
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For more book recommendations, check out:
- Jenna Bush Hager pens love letters to her late grandparents in new book
- 7 successful women reveal the book that changed their lives
- 5 author-approved books to wrap up your summer reading