Read advance reader review of Something Like Beautiful by Asha Bandele, page 4 of 5

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Something Like Beautiful

One Single Mother's Story

by Asha Bandele

Something Like Beautiful by Asha Bandele X
Something Like Beautiful by Asha Bandele
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  • Published Jan 2009
    208 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Page 4 of 5
There are currently 34 member reviews
for Something Like Beautiful
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  • Ann (Clermont GA)
    Rising to Meet the Challenge
    Bandele's book, though beautifully written, struck a somewhat sour note with me at times. Being a single mother myself, I could identify with her frustrations and anxieties, but a lot of her problems were due to her own very bad choices and I did not see this fact adequately acknowledged in the narrative. Still, it is a worthwhile read and will resonate with struggling single mothers..
  • Angela (Hartland MI)
    I had hoped for more.
    For a rather short book, it took me awhile to finish it. Not because I was too busy, but because this book just did not engross me at all. The writing is too poetic and dramatic for me to lose myself in the story. I was painfully aware throughout most of the book that I was reading more because I felt I had to than because I wanted to. The writer rambles on in multiple tangents and monologues about wide and far reaching issues that many people could (and do) complain about.

    On the plus side, I was able to relate to her in some ways and every time I found myself about to give up reading, the subject matter would get more interesting and I would press on. However, in the end, I had expected more.
  • Valerie (Chico CA)
    A Gentle Essay
    I must be fair and state that this is not the type of non-fiction I normally read. I like my books to be engrossing and insightful, as well as well-written. This book reads as an essay, beautifully written and touching, and gives many insights as to love and relationships with an incarcerated husband, as well as the troubles and joys of single motherhood. I think that if you enjoyed the author's earlier work you will enjoy this as well!
  • Cynthia (Puyallup WA)
    Something Like Beautiful
    I approached this story with great curiosity - I have often wondered about what type of woman would marry an incarcerated felon. I thought that perhaps this book would provide some insight as to what drew her to this person and situation that, to me, was like playing with fire. So I had a very open and eager mind to reading her story. At the end – I cannot say that I am disappointed even though my original question went basically unanswered – but what I didn’t expect what that during the journey of Bandele’s story, more questions arose and were answered to in a beautiful and honest approach to herself with regard to her daughter (and future) as well as to her past. This is a story of one woman’s survival and endurance and I applaud that approach. Where I had a problem, is where she reigned in all of the other single mothers “out there” as sharing in her story and struggle. In a nutshell – eh, no. Not even close.
  • Lynette (San Antonio TX)
    Something Like Beautiful
    Over all I found Asha Bandele’s Something Like Beautiful to be an engrossing story. I liked reading about what happened to her, and how these events made her feel; I sympathized 98% with the author, even as I wished she had made other choices; and I loved meeting her precious, precocious daughter. The message was uplifting as the book ended, and I can imagine this work will be a boon to other single parents, especially women.

    Although the author never made the point in so many words that children of single parents are often, of necessity, more mature than other kids of their ages, I do believe this to be true. The relationship this mother and daughter have is truly a beautiful thing, and I think Bandele fails to give herself enough credit for this fact. On the other hand, one wonders about down the road, how difficult it may be for them to separate in the normal, healthy way of all kids and their mothers. It’s a poignant fact of life for just such families that growing up to be independent may be more problematic for children like Bandele’s daughter and for the parents, also, that cleaving may be particularly painful. In other words, I believe this book is an important sociological portrait, given the prevalence of single mothers.

    I have only one reservation about Something Like Beautiful, which may not even be fair, considering that the book I read was not the final edition. And this is that, despite the fact that Bandele has won awards as an author, I found her language to be vague and/or ambiguous in numerous places. I am not talking about typos or repetitions of words, or misspellings. Instead I found pronouns whose antecedents were not clear, or sentences such as the following, which I found by opening the book at random: “ ... we revealed ourselves to ourselves wholly ...” rather than “... we revealed ourselves to each other wholly ...” and instead of “After five years ... we did what most people who are in love are want -- and able -- to do,” I certainly hope she meant to say “are wont ... to do.” OK, the latter may have been an editorial error, but there were many, many sentences that I had to read several times in order to find the meaning in them. Here’s an example of an awkward sentence (the last one): “You can still make it out,... but you have to squint. And even then, blurs.” Does she mean, “And even then it blurs” or “And even then, you see a blur”? Sometimes I chalked up the ambiguity to her being a poet, but I usually enjoy reading the prose of poets, so maybe it’s just that the work is still in need of a firm editorial hand. (I suppose that editing one’s own writing is different from editing that of another, since the author has also worked as an editor.)

    Despite the foregoing paragraph, I found Something Like Beautiful, by Asha Bandele, to be well worth the reading.
  • Sylvia (Scottsdale AZ)
    Overexamined life
    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.
  • Lisa (Wheeling 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.

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