Oh the Stories They Tell: Memoirs for Women Like Us

Four women bare their souls in tell-all tomes that also lend voice to the issues we face.

Literary buzz about black memoirs have focused primarily on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, but there are four memoirs of note that have been written by African American women. Each woman has a unique story to tell and in the voice of maturity, which we need.

Poet and academic Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World (Grand Central, April 2015) details her thoughts, feelings and sentiments regarding the loss of her husband, artist Ficre Ghebreyesus in 2012. Alexander’s memoir is a love story that includes the couple’s sons in the telling. Most will remember her as the poet who read at President Obama’s first inauguration.

Soap opera and movie fans know the beautiful dimpled face of Debbi Morgan (Angie, “All My Children”) quite well. Morgan’s memoir, The Monkey on My Back (Simon and Schuster, August 2015) chronicles a part of her life story that most of us were not made privilege to know until now. The daughter and granddaughter of domestic violence victims, she shares her inspirational journey and the struggles she has had to break the cycle.

Beverly Johnson, supermodel and businesswoman, recently made news as one of Bill Cosby’s accusers. Her memoir, The Face That Changed It All (Simon and Schuster, August 2015), devotes a chapter to her encounter with Cosby but the rest of the book is her story about being the first black supermodel to grace the cover of Vogue magazine. She also discusses a frightful custody battle over her daughter, struggles with drug addiction and racism, and a love affair with the late tennis great Arthur Ashe.

Journalist and acclaimed novelist Benilde Little writes tells the truth about a debilitating bout with depression related to grief in Welcome to My Breakdown (Simon and Schuster, April 2015) and she shames the devil. She writes candidly about being a wife, mother and caregiver to her late mother, as well as the pressures accompanying being one woman juggling all and trying to save herself in the process.

The comfort of a memoir is seeing ourselves in women we admire. Grab a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and indulge yourself in some great reality reading. You can find these books at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, and at their sites of their publishing houses.