Author(s): Pearl CleageDownload
Cleage captures the mores, culture, and rhythm of black urban youth and the romantic tensions between mature black adults as she weaves contemporary issues into a love story.Joyce Mitchell was widowed far too young when her beloved husband, Mitch, died in a tragic accident five years ago. Since then she’s kept her hands full and her mind and heart occupied by running The Sewing Circus, an all-girl group she founded to provide badly needed services like day care and job counseling to young women, many of whom are single mothers. More important, The Circus is a place for lively, wide-ranging, heart-to-heart discussions that will help members grow into what Joyce likes to call “twenty-first-century free women.” All in all, Joyce has a full and rich life. She has her work, her family, her friends, and her town. But there are some nights when she crawls into bed alone and has to admit that something is missing. What she doesn’t have is that red dress she keeps dreaming about or a social life that would accommodate it even if she braved the mall and bought one. To further complicate matters, she may not have The Sewing Circus much longer, as the state legislature has decided not to fund the group’s vital but hard to define work with young women who are too often regarded as problems rather than possibilities. Feeling defeated and pessimistic, Joyce reluctantly agrees to keep a date for dinner at the home of her best friend, Sister — a reverend like no other-and finds not only a perfect meal but a tall, dark stranger named Nate Anderson. Nate has just joined the administration at the high school and his unexpected presence in Idlewild touches a chord in Joyce that she thought her heart had forgotten how to play. Nate feels the same immediate connection, but both have enough experience with broken hearts to take it real slow. Besides, they’ve got too much work to do to concentrate on falling in love….But life moves at its own pace, and as Sister says, “if you want to make God laugh, make plans.” Particularly when it comes to matters of the heart. Joyce decides the trick is to stay focused and to remember that nothing is as sexy as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, especially if you tell it while you’re wearing a perfect red dress…
Some Reviews: 142 in Goodreads.com
excerpts from ” I wish I had a Red Dress
” Ten Things Every Free Woman Should Know”
1. How to grow food and flowers
2. How to prepare food nutritiously
4. Basic first aid/sex education and midwifery
5. Child care (prenatal/early childhood development)
6. Basic literacy/basic math/basic computer skills
7. Defensive driving/map reading/basic auto and home repairs
8. Household budget/money management
9. Spiritual practice
10. Physical fitness/health/hygiene
“…forgetting how to have a good time on Saturday night is as lethal as smoking crack. It just takes a little longer to kill you.”
“…why is it that the only real antidote to a broken heart is hair of the dog that bit you?”
“If you can’t fling things around when your heart is breaking, you probably don’t have much of a heart in the first place.”
“A man who can make you laugh is worth his weight in gold”
“for Men Only”
1. Tell the truth
2. Get a job
3. Show up on time
4. Pay your own bills
5. No hitting women and kids
6. No raping
7. Use a rubber
8. If you make a baby, be a father
9. Respect the old timers
10. Bring the love
Content warnings: Domestic violence, domestic abuse, abuse, threats of violence, mentions of rape and what constitutes rape
I THINK that’s all the content warnings. Despite them (or maybe because of those things) this was REALLY GOOD. And as it turns out I own the book that’s technically before this (which I just found out). But despite this being a duo I don’t think you need to read the first to really understand this one since everything is more or less explained in this book and you’re not feeling like you’re missing a lot.
This is a book about life and love. And reclaiming yourself for you. And empowering yourself. Or at least that’s what I got out of it. Also, supporting women in being their own person. Particularly supporting black women. Which is kind of touched on in the book but supporting black women is a thing that definitely should be done since the world is more or less against them including black men (which is the part that’s touched on briefly kind of).
Anyway though, I really enjoyed this book. Despite not being a black woman (which is the obvious intended audience for this book).
I really didn’t like Junior’s family but also I know you’re not necessarily suppose to like them. I like that basically everyone that’s mentioned in this book is black. It’s nice every now and then to not see my race represented in media because we’re so overrepresented.
Pearl Cleage has a very easy to follow writing style that flows very well. This was one of the rare books I’ve read lately that I’ve picked up and found very hard to put back down and not devour. It went really fast for me (when I wasn’t distracted by other duties and things I had to do).
I look forward to reading more books in the future by Pearl cleage.
This book related to the struggles of women and how one woman changed her life to help others. I enjoyed this book because it spoke on the issues in the black community but did not dwell on drugs. Joyce is a strong, black woman that’s trying to change the lives of young women by making them independent instead of thinking they’re some man’s punching bag. She gave them hope, courage and taught them to resolve situations for themselves.
I like Joyce because she kept her opinions out of the situations but if you asked for it, you got it in a way that made you answer your own questions. Then there’s Anita Lattimore, a woman that should have been barren instead of capable of having kids. She has the meanest sons that have went out and made multiple babies by different women, steal and don’t mind intimidating or hitting someone. Even their own sister, Sheila. The mom is just as mean and surly as her boys but they all intimidate Sheila and use her as their own slave.This little small town would be okay if this family didn’t live here but they do.
The story plot was great. I understood each character and how they related to the story. The book described the scenery but didn’t extend the description long enough to become a bore. The book brought together three generations; young, middle age & senior citizens and showed each portions contribution.
That Nate, the new vice principle! Just Joyce describing him got my heart skipping a best. A definition of a man that allows a woman to be who she is…..herself.
Pick up the book and enjoy it!
I am again impressed at Pearl Cleage’s ability to write what feel at times like pretty fluffy sisterhood-ladytimes novels, but manage to confront very real issues of lack of education/opportunity for black youth in economically depressed communities, gender-based violence, and systemic racial and gender inequality, as a matter of course. Cleage does this without being preachy or academic about the issues, just acknowledging their obvious roles in the lives of her characters in a deft and matter-of-fact way.
I also appreciate her dialogue, which incorporates many of the familiar turns of phrase I’ve come to know working with mostly poor black women in DC. My experience with contemporary “black” fiction is somewhat limited, so maybe this is not all that uncommon, but regardless, it’s nice to find books that intelligently address complex social systems and their effect on people’s lives, while still being relatively fluffy reads and speaking in the voices of that community (at least to the extent I’m familar with it).
I wish it wasn’t quite so heteronormative and leaning in the direction of romance novel-y (it’s obvious from the jacket blurb that our heroine will end up with this perfect dude who appears early on, and just about every character in the book has an explicitly mentioned hetero relationship past or present). But at least it acknowledges the existence of queer folks in a no-big-deal way? Enh. It frustrates.