Sylvia (Scottsdale AZ)
The unexamined life may not be worth living but this over-examined life is not worth reading. While much of the writing is lyrical, this overly repetitious and often overly romanticized story of Bandele's love life and motherhood is muddied and dull. This is her 3rd or 4th memoir and I would suggest she moves to fiction.
Velma (Jacksonville TX)
An Urban Tale
I finished Something Like Beautiful by Asha Bandele today. At first I was not fond of her sing-song style of writing, but then she is a poet by profession first. I knew that this was to be a single mother's story, but I wasn't prepared for the raw, gut wrenching tale that Ms. Bandele wrote. She pulls no punches and it reads like a personal diary. I didn't always like or agree with the things that she did and said, but there is an honesty that shines through and makes it a very worthwhile read. I do admire the courage she exhibited both in her life and in writing this book.
Christine (Highland UT)
This book was difficult for me to get into - at first. Asha Bandele writes her memoir in stream of consciousness. Sentences ramble (some have 79+ words), and I'm not sure why some things become separated paragraphs. Having said that, I got used to it.
I've not ever read a book where feelings and emotions were always present. I could understand her pain, depression, coming to grips, her profound love for her daughter, her losses and her endurance of life. She continues throughout to open herself up to her work in progress.
In the end, I felt connection.
Lisa (Riverwoods IL)
Something Like Beautiful
The subtitle of the book, One Single Mother's Story described her life as a Black woman poet after marrying a prisoner, having his baby, moving on with her life and finally realizing that she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression, things she thinks afflict many Black women. She did not really develop her relationship with Rashid which lasted 10 years and glossed over his deportation with very little emotion or explanation. She described herself as a survivor and called her daughter Nisa the evidence, her reason for living. asha (spelled with a small letter for unknown reasons) says she is the story of many single Black mothers but I think she was different in that she was blessed with education, a loving family and a great job. I found it difficult to generalize her life to single mothers who have not been that lucky.
Eileen (Pittsford NY)
Learning to bear witness to her life
This is a exquisitely written, lyrical memoir which shows with devastating force the psychological damage and life-long ramifications caused by childhood sexual abuse. Bandele focuses less on the actual details of her life and more on how she was able to cultivate the resilience and strength necessary to live as a survivor rather than as a victim. She does a marvelous job of showing the power and motivating force of love, especially the love of we have for our children.