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The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption

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When novelist Bertice Berry set out to write a history of her family, she initially believed she’d uncover a story of slavery and black pain, but the deeper she dug, the more surprises she found. There was heartache, yes, but also something unexpected: hope. Peeling away the layers, Berry came to learn that the history of slavery cannot be quantified in simple, black-and When novelist Bertice Berry set out to write a history of her family, she initially believed she’d uncover a story of slavery and black pain, but the deeper she dug, the more surprises she found. There was heartache, yes, but also something unexpected: hope. Peeling away the layers, Berry came to learn that the history of slavery cannot be quantified in simple, black-and-white terms of “good†and “evil†but is rather a complex tapestry of roles and relations, of choices and individual responsibility. In this poignant, reflective memoir, Berry skillfully relays the evolution of relations between the races, from slavery to Reconstruction, from the struggles of the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power 1970s, and on to the present day. In doing so, she sheds light on a picture of the past that not only liberates but also unites and evokes the need to forgive and be forgiven.


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When novelist Bertice Berry set out to write a history of her family, she initially believed she’d uncover a story of slavery and black pain, but the deeper she dug, the more surprises she found. There was heartache, yes, but also something unexpected: hope. Peeling away the layers, Berry came to learn that the history of slavery cannot be quantified in simple, black-and When novelist Bertice Berry set out to write a history of her family, she initially believed she’d uncover a story of slavery and black pain, but the deeper she dug, the more surprises she found. There was heartache, yes, but also something unexpected: hope. Peeling away the layers, Berry came to learn that the history of slavery cannot be quantified in simple, black-and-white terms of “good†and “evil†but is rather a complex tapestry of roles and relations, of choices and individual responsibility. In this poignant, reflective memoir, Berry skillfully relays the evolution of relations between the races, from slavery to Reconstruction, from the struggles of the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power 1970s, and on to the present day. In doing so, she sheds light on a picture of the past that not only liberates but also unites and evokes the need to forgive and be forgiven.

30 review for The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption

  1. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    I’ve loved—truly loved—Bertice Berry from first sight in a video. Since then I’ve gone from fan to commenting so much that we have become Facebook friends. I wear one of the facemasks she’s designed and made— —and I feel as if her healing hands are caressing me. To start each day I listen to her "I'm Dr. Bertice Berry [sociologist] and I want to tell you a story" videos on Facebook, so I've heard bits of some of the stories in this wonderful memoir already. All of this is to say, I'm not a I’ve loved—truly loved—Bertice Berry from first sight in a video. Since then I’ve gone from fan to commenting so much that we have become Facebook friends. I wear one of the facemasks she’s designed and made— —and I feel as if her healing hands are caressing me. To start each day I listen to her "I'm Dr. Bertice Berry [sociologist] and I want to tell you a story" videos on Facebook, so I've heard bits of some of the stories in this wonderful memoir already. All of this is to say, I'm not a neutral reader. Lucky me, because that means I can read and hear her voice in my head and my heart. I can deeply appreciate her wisdom, clarity, and commitment to tell the truth, correcting herself when she is proven wrong—which she does in one whole chapter of this memoir when she gives a detailed history of a man she believed was a slave owner, only to find out that, on the contrary, he was a heroic abolitionist. The Ties That Bind is a perfect mix of personal story and researched history, including a wonderfully useful and enhancing back-of-book Notes section. The memoir is entertaining, gentle, but for anybody who is open to using it to learn more about themselves—what they have believed that might be wrong, what they are willing to sacrifice or risk to do the right thing, what they might have been missing by living a segregated life, and so much more—for them, it is a generous teacher, offering a glimpse into a full-spectrum life. Bertice Berry is my teacher. She is a person I've longed to know, and whether or not we ever meet in person, she is my friend.

  2. 4 out of 5

    AfroLit

    I love this book. I listened to it on audio and found another favorite narrator. This book is only four cd's long. And if you know me i re-listen to cd's when they are good. This one i rewound each cd. I am happy to sit with this book and learn from Dr. Berry about the human side of people we may have judged by grouping them together. I have learned that she is always consistent in her message and that is love. I recommend this book to anyone who has time to repeat the lesson even after the firs I love this book. I listened to it on audio and found another favorite narrator. This book is only four cd's long. And if you know me i re-listen to cd's when they are good. This one i rewound each cd. I am happy to sit with this book and learn from Dr. Berry about the human side of people we may have judged by grouping them together. I have learned that she is always consistent in her message and that is love. I recommend this book to anyone who has time to repeat the lesson even after the first time it uplifts your soul. I did.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    At times I felt I was prying by turning the pages as Beatrice Berry tells the story of her life. She shows, through her feelings, and those later expressed by her mother, how poverty and the attitudes it engenders breeds abuse. Ms. Berry's mother, like many other single mothers was looking for love and Beatrice gives us a sketch of how this played out. She also gives us a sketch of how education lifted her from the poverty and its resulting abuse. When her mother quit drinking and was able to ref At times I felt I was prying by turning the pages as Beatrice Berry tells the story of her life. She shows, through her feelings, and those later expressed by her mother, how poverty and the attitudes it engenders breeds abuse. Ms. Berry's mother, like many other single mothers was looking for love and Beatrice gives us a sketch of how this played out. She also gives us a sketch of how education lifted her from the poverty and its resulting abuse. When her mother quit drinking and was able to reflect on her life, a dialog was possible. The dialog led to a more realistic assessment of her life and the forces, both black and white that shaped it. She becomes aware that John Hunn, the man she thought was the owner of her family, was an abolitionist with whom her family worked both agriculturally and on the Underground Railroad. This inspired research, new thinking and a new attitude. This book is helpful because of its honesty. While it is sketchy, the sketch is enough, like the stranger on the airplane who by sharing their life enriches yours.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Saw this at my library's Juneteenth display. Well-written book that interweaves an epiphany-rich memoir with black history. The author doesn't flinch when describing painful situations but the book is filled with hope, an upward look. Saw this at my library's Juneteenth display. Well-written book that interweaves an epiphany-rich memoir with black history. The author doesn't flinch when describing painful situations but the book is filled with hope, an upward look.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mocha Girl

    In her latest novel, The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption, she writes "When we remember our ancestors and their stories, we light a pathway for our own journey to spiritual, emotional, and intellectual freedom." I think this novel is a cathartic journey for Berry as she attempts to reconcile the maligning of a man's character and name and encourage readers to heal through forgiveness and encouragement. She opens with references to an earlier work, Redemption Song, in whic In her latest novel, The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption, she writes "When we remember our ancestors and their stories, we light a pathway for our own journey to spiritual, emotional, and intellectual freedom." I think this novel is a cathartic journey for Berry as she attempts to reconcile the maligning of a man's character and name and encourage readers to heal through forgiveness and encouragement. She opens with references to an earlier work, Redemption Song, in which a minor character, John Hunn, was a mean and hateful slave owner. The name was usurped from childhood stories told by her mother in which John Hunn owned the land that her great-grandfather worked in Delaware. Although her mother described Hunn as "good white folk," for years Berry imagined John Hunn as a stereotypical, tyrant; a powerful landowner holding her great-grandfather (a free man) in a serf-life, forever-in-debt sharecropping situation. It is not until years later, on her mother's deathbed that Berry experiences a type of epiphany which led to the publication of the novel. Through her mother's oral and written histories and her social and genealogical research, she validates that John Hunn was indeed the best kind of folk: an abolitionist, a conductor on Underground Railroad, a Quaker minister who repeatedly risked his life, and eventually lost his family's fortune helping the enslaved escape to freedom. This novel unequivocally reverses the misrepresented (negative) image of John Hunn as depicted in Redemption Song. She parallels her quest for Hunn with a reexamination of her mother's life and ancestors and a recollection of candid and sometimes painful memories from her own childhood. True to Berry fashion, the book is filled with African proverbs, familial anecdotes (ala "Mama used to say..."), and wonderful historical tidbits regarding the life of Hunn, her family, and Delaware's roots in the Union, and its roles, policies, and laws during the slavery era. She substantiates her finds in a fairly detailed Notes section which provides great references -- allowing the reader to dive deeper into respective areas of interest. Not lost on the reader is the strong child advocacy sentiments which encourage readers to teach, reach, encourage, and support all children, particularly special needs or troubled children. This book is recommended reading for fans of Berry, history buffs (with a penchant for Delaware), and/or those who would like to reaffirm their thoughts on forgiveness and seek evidence in the power of perseverance and determination. Reviewed by Phyllis February 11, 2009

  6. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    The author shares her historical finding. This was my first reading by this author, thus I was not up to speed on some of her statements from previous books. The sexual abuse that took place among generations was disheartening along with an alignment with strict religious beliefs. I enjoyed reading although a few passages were repeating for emphasis.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    A fabulous book! This book, part memoir and part historical, by Bertice Berry has so many different facets and as a result I like this book for many different reasons! From the beginning, I immediately liked Berry because her voice is clear and honest. While we grew up in very different situations, I am caucasian and middle class, we are about the same age and I could relate to so many parts in the book. I too finally listened to my mother’s stories just before she died and it was a precious gif A fabulous book! This book, part memoir and part historical, by Bertice Berry has so many different facets and as a result I like this book for many different reasons! From the beginning, I immediately liked Berry because her voice is clear and honest. While we grew up in very different situations, I am caucasian and middle class, we are about the same age and I could relate to so many parts in the book. I too finally listened to my mother’s stories just before she died and it was a precious gift that has also drawn me to genealogical research. Like Berry, I have wondered what drew my caucasian family to the abolitionist movement in the early 1800s and therefore appreciated hearing about the research that she did in following her family and the Hunns. Her honest and forthright look at her own anger as an African American and her mother’s search for a stable life was eye opening for me as a caucasian who lives in a economically and ethnically diverse neighborhood. Berry is so right that slavery has had lasting effects on us all-anger for African Americans and guilt for Caucasians. I highly recommend this book to everyone and hope that it gets broader attention! At only 175 pages, it is a quick read that I promise you will not soon forget! I rarely desire to meet an author but in this case I would love to sit down with Bertice Berry and continue this conversation!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Don

    no oreo a sellout, preconceived notion of greatness and evil, don’t turn back on wisdom, joy pain struggle love forgive, love stronger than evil, half-truth not truth, too much pride leads to fall, the way out is back through, poke rolls grits beans, wake up singing, pain temporary peace eternal, 7by7, thing we fear most will always happen, beat the black off you, descendants of spiritual zealots, PA Crozer King Jr, science hair block, women freed before successful, data tells story, power write no oreo a sellout, preconceived notion of greatness and evil, don’t turn back on wisdom, joy pain struggle love forgive, love stronger than evil, half-truth not truth, too much pride leads to fall, the way out is back through, poke rolls grits beans, wake up singing, pain temporary peace eternal, 7by7, thing we fear most will always happen, beat the black off you, descendants of spiritual zealots, PA Crozer King Jr, science hair block, women freed before successful, data tells story, power writes history suffer write songs, Paul work for God’s purpose who love him, laws for lawless, healing begins with gratitude, forgiveness a gift for both, 7 curious, not like crabs in barrel, in slavery if not understand rights, chopped onions in socks for fever, past is past, blacks against blacks lack of respect in children loss of community ignore history-ignore lessons for today free to do what suppose to do love over evil.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linda K

    Relating the story of her family's past, Bertice Berry realized that she did not fully understand of what that past consisted. It was only at the end of her mother's life that she finally began to listen to the stories told of good white people who owned the farm where her ancestors lived and worked. Before this time she believed her people to be slaves. Her previous novel had castigated the supposed slave owner of her family and with this book she seeks to redeem herself for her misinformation. Relating the story of her family's past, Bertice Berry realized that she did not fully understand of what that past consisted. It was only at the end of her mother's life that she finally began to listen to the stories told of good white people who owned the farm where her ancestors lived and worked. Before this time she believed her people to be slaves. Her previous novel had castigated the supposed slave owner of her family and with this book she seeks to redeem herself for her misinformation. Growing up in the 60's as one of seven children, all of different fathers, Ms. Berry tells her family story, attempting to weave the times of slavery into the fabric of the current day. Her life is a crusade of encouraging people of all colors to come to grips with where they have come from and above all, to love and help others in their lives. A postive reflection of thoughtful writing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I saw Bertice Berry speak back in November, and I've been wanting to read one of her books since then. This book did not disappoint. It was a very real, well-written look into both her recent history and into the history of her ancestors within the lens of larger cultural issues. While sitting in the hospital with her mother, Berry hears a documentary on abolitionists mention the name of the man she assumed had owned her great-grandfather. What she learns is that he was actually a vital part of I saw Bertice Berry speak back in November, and I've been wanting to read one of her books since then. This book did not disappoint. It was a very real, well-written look into both her recent history and into the history of her ancestors within the lens of larger cultural issues. While sitting in the hospital with her mother, Berry hears a documentary on abolitionists mention the name of the man she assumed had owned her great-grandfather. What she learns is that he was actually a vital part of the Underground Railroad - which leads her down a path of understanding that the issue of slavery has never been just black vs. white. I learned from this book, I loved with this book, and I can't wait to read more of her books. Highly recommend dipping into this one for a look at some American history in regards to race.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    I listened to this book. The author is a sociologist, and did a good job of researching her family history. Very interesting, especially for the illumination of ties among blacks and whites in slavery times and just after in Delaware.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Dr. Berry is one of my favorite authors and this iis no disappointment. IT has more history and factual accounts than her other books buut she still manages to convey her warmth, humor, and love.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather Johnson

    I saw Dr. Berry at a conference and she was pretty amazing. This book only reinforced some of the powerful messages I took from her speech.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    This was in many was a strange memoir to read.  Although the author and I likely stand far apart on many issues of politics, and certainly that is true of identity, there was a great deal about this book that I found to be intriguing.  It was not my intent to read this book with the idea that I would agree with a lot of it, and in truth I found much that I disagreed with and found to be somewhat blameworthy on the part of the author.  Nevertheless, in reading this book I sought to better underst This was in many was a strange memoir to read.  Although the author and I likely stand far apart on many issues of politics, and certainly that is true of identity, there was a great deal about this book that I found to be intriguing.  It was not my intent to read this book with the idea that I would agree with a lot of it, and in truth I found much that I disagreed with and found to be somewhat blameworthy on the part of the author.  Nevertheless, in reading this book I sought to better understand where the author was coming from in her own background as she wrestled with the tangled roots of slavery and its abolition in the United States, an issue of some personal interest to me [1], and I found precisely that.  My expectations for this book, in other words, were met.  They were not gloriously exceeded, to be sure, but they were met and that is a significant achievement for any book, particularly a book written by someone who clearly has a strong attachment to her identity as a black writer writing largely for black audiences. As I mentioned earlier, this book is a strange sort of memoir.  At less than 200 pages, it is certainly not a taxing book in terms of its length or contents.  The three parts of this book are titled, straightforwardly, memoir, race, and redemption, and the author covers a striking selection of interrelated content.  The author talks about the generational patterns of problems with divorce and fatherlessness, her struggles to get along with her mother, the problem of the erasure of much of black history and the difficulties that ambiguous terms for friends and relatives and complicated family histories and textual gaps create for genealogical research.  She pays a debt of honor to her professors and to her academic patron, and makes a surprising and touching admission of fault in the way one of her previous books dealt with a Delaware Quaker abolitionist who she had libeled as a brutal slaveowner when he actually lost a great deal of his own fortune and well-being as a result of his principled stand against slavery as the southernmost conductor of the Underground Railroad.  The author's willingness to own up to her faults and to face them squarely is something that can be admired even by those who find her rhetoric and political worldview to be defective. There are likely many readers, especially among the intended audience of this book, that are likely to enjoy this book more than I did and to view it far more favorably.   I found the author's discussion of her own bad choices to be painful and unpleasant, and I found the author's past views with regards to race to be completely reprehensible and without any sort of legitimacy.  Those readers whose ancestral memories and political agendas make it reasonable for them to treat others as their great-great-grandparents were treated rather than treating others as they would like to be treated will likely find a great deal more to sympathize with here.  In large part, this book is a book about growing more tolerant in ways that are both good and bad, in losing a great deal of the stridency of youth but also while compromising and betraying one's moral basis out of selfishness.  Whether or not the reader chooses to forgive the reader for her many and serious faults because of their appreciation of her candor and her willingness to admit that she was wrong in some ways is a choice the reader has to make for themselves.  I found much worthy of forgiveness here, but also many areas where the ties that bind ended up influencing the author to decline in moral stature from how she had been when younger. [1] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Faye Johnson

    Setting out to write the history of her family, the author expected to uncover a story of black pain stemming from the horrors of slavery and the divide between the races. Many of her role models were the angry and very visible blacks of the sixties and seventies who believed all whites were bad. There was no room in this way of thinking to accept anything else. Her great grandfather had “worked on the farm” for John Hunn in Delaware during the 1800s. Her mother had told her “Granddaddy said Joh Setting out to write the history of her family, the author expected to uncover a story of black pain stemming from the horrors of slavery and the divide between the races. Many of her role models were the angry and very visible blacks of the sixties and seventies who believed all whites were bad. There was no room in this way of thinking to accept anything else. Her great grandfather had “worked on the farm” for John Hunn in Delaware during the 1800s. Her mother had told her “Granddaddy said John Hunn was a good man, he was a nice man.” The author admitted she secretly detested the stories because “They just didn’t make sense. Didn’t my mother know that there were no good white people who owned slaves?” She was convinced that her mother misunderstood or that her grandfather had spared her from the harsh realities of slavery. John Hunn became the name of the slave owner in her first novel, Redemption Song. Fast forward to her second novel. This is, plain and simple, a truly inspiring read. The author has matured greatly and faces the mistakes of the past with honesty and understanding. Her life has not been an easy one but she’s not looking for pity. She simply states the facts that have led her to where she is today. Along the way, she discovered that not only was John Hunn not a slave owner, but he was also a Quaker who risked great danger as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. It was important to her to set the record straight. Well researched, this should be required reading for ethnic studies classes

  16. 5 out of 5

    Monica Tolva

    Bertice Berry is a sociologist who has studied why certain African-American women are more successful than others. She discovered that the more time has passed between when the woman's ancestors were held in slavery, the more successful she can become. Bertice also wrote a fiction book called Redemption Song in which she told the fictional story of Iona, a slave woman.  Read p. 3: "Iona lived during slavery in deplorable conditions ... complete the cycle of love that they started years before." Bertice Berry is a sociologist who has studied why certain African-American women are more successful than others. She discovered that the more time has passed between when the woman's ancestors were held in slavery, the more successful she can become. Bertice also wrote a fiction book called Redemption Song in which she told the fictional story of Iona, a slave woman.  Read p. 3: "Iona lived during slavery in deplorable conditions ... complete the cycle of love that they started years before."  When Bertice wrote this book, she named the fictional slave owner with the name of a real person. Read p. 5: "In my attempt to tell a story of love ... worked on that farm for John Hunn,' she told us." Bertice's mother told her stories about John Hunn that did not make sense.  Read p. 6: "Grandaddy said John Hunn was a good man ... How could I?" Bertice Berry wrote this book, The Ties That Bind, to set the record straight. To acknowledge that John Hunn was a good man. That there were some good whites during the time of slavery. That she, and perhaps other African Americans, had painted the white race with one color, rather than seeing that there are good and bad in all kinds of people. And most of all, Bertice shows how strong are the bonds of family, the ties that bind.

  17. 5 out of 5

    sssnoo reads

    I thoroughly enjoyed the content of this book, the unearthing of a family history, with all its surprizes and revelations. Unfortunately there is a lot of repetative filler interspersed that just annoyed me at times. I believe this book would have been better as an Atlantic article or some othe rshorter format. I get the sense the author struggled to meet an coomitment to an editor for a full length book. That said, it is a good short read so if you want to fill in some unique history of America I thoroughly enjoyed the content of this book, the unearthing of a family history, with all its surprizes and revelations. Unfortunately there is a lot of repetative filler interspersed that just annoyed me at times. I believe this book would have been better as an Atlantic article or some othe rshorter format. I get the sense the author struggled to meet an coomitment to an editor for a full length book. That said, it is a good short read so if you want to fill in some unique history of American slavory, underground railroad and abolition, you should read it. I read this for Delaware on my 50 state challenge and did get a good feel for the role this state played on that topic. That aspect of the book was very interesting.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abbie David

    I heard Bertice speak and immediately put all of her books on hold at the library. Bertice has a great perspective and through her memoir shows that if you we do not learn from our history we are doomed to repeat it. Knowledge is power. Our country’s history is shameful, but cannot be ignored if we are going to get better.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tara Kelsey

    Maybe I had some mixed-up expectations of this book when I plucked it off of my local library's Black History Month display. I had thought that this book was going to be more of a story than it ended up being, which was a letdown mostly because Berry has so much great stuff to say! I understand what she was trying to accomplish in writing in this format and why it was probably the right way for her, but as a reader, I just didn't get caught up in it the way that I could have. If Berry had gone m Maybe I had some mixed-up expectations of this book when I plucked it off of my local library's Black History Month display. I had thought that this book was going to be more of a story than it ended up being, which was a letdown mostly because Berry has so much great stuff to say! I understand what she was trying to accomplish in writing in this format and why it was probably the right way for her, but as a reader, I just didn't get caught up in it the way that I could have. If Berry had gone more into the story of finding out about her family history, or told her family history more like a narrative, this easily would have gotten 4 stars. These are just personal greviences, though; Berry's personal style and tone bled through her words in a way that made me trust her immediately. Also, all of her viewpoints were really fair and reasonable, and made for some interesting thought. In conclusion, maybe I would have related to this better if I could relate more to a narrative of a very spiritual black Christian woman from the 70s (being a white millenial Jew myself heh), but it was an interesting and short read, so I would rec it to anyone looking for a hidden gem.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Beth

    I probably would not have found/selected this book to read on my own, but read it because Bertice Berry is speaking where I work in a month and I was curious to see what she was like before I hear her in person. I didn't expect to overly enjoy this memoir but I actually enjoyed it. Berry explores her family history, particular her relationship with her mother and her maternal mother's relationship with slavery and whites. I immediately liked Berry from the introductory chapters because she admit I probably would not have found/selected this book to read on my own, but read it because Bertice Berry is speaking where I work in a month and I was curious to see what she was like before I hear her in person. I didn't expect to overly enjoy this memoir but I actually enjoyed it. Berry explores her family history, particular her relationship with her mother and her maternal mother's relationship with slavery and whites. I immediately liked Berry from the introductory chapters because she admits that she was wrong in her first novel. In the novel, she uses the name John Hunn, the white man her mother's family worked under, as a villain slave owner. However, in later years she had discovered that John Hunn was a great man who helped hundreds of slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. I really admire anyone who is willing to admit that they made a mistake and are able to reconsider their initial opinion. In The Ties that Bind, Berry explores the idea that race relations are not so simple as good and bad as she initially thought. I enjoyed hearing Berry's story and her discussion of the difficulty of coming from an impoverished, alcoholic family of seven children to ultimately getting her phd and making amends with her mother and her bitterness. I did feel like Berry vaciliated between somewhat pretentious references to scholarly authors when they weren't necessary to humble discussions of her background. I also felt like the format of this book was somewhat confused, since it switches between in depth history of slavery/New Jersey/her family to discussions of the journals her mother left behind and what it means to be a mother herself. However, overall, I enjoyed Berry's reflections and feel confident that she will give an insightful lecture when she visits us here in Virginia in a month.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    All these reviews are excellent. I think what Dr. Berry is saying is really important. It was very interesting. It made me realize how little I know of any specifics--about any history. Throughout history I bet the world has been full of good people who aren't getting news coverage. This book importantly pushes the reader to think about that. The book is written however mainly to apologize for a mistake. In an earlier work, Dr. Berry described a man, who gave much of his life's energy to fightin All these reviews are excellent. I think what Dr. Berry is saying is really important. It was very interesting. It made me realize how little I know of any specifics--about any history. Throughout history I bet the world has been full of good people who aren't getting news coverage. This book importantly pushes the reader to think about that. The book is written however mainly to apologize for a mistake. In an earlier work, Dr. Berry described a man, who gave much of his life's energy to fighting slavery, as an evil slave-owner. I do not mean to blame or devalue that apology. I think the book is elegant, honest, and says some deep, important, and true things about how we should think about history. And I think these things are not often, if ever, considered. And I think the relationship between Dr. Berry and her mother is quite extraordinary and beautifully described. However, the book is basically an apology. It is not an attempt to look at a piece of history by researching the relevant events beyond the basic facts. That was not Dr. Berry's purpose, nor did it need to be. But I would have liked to learn more about John Hunn and the history for example of the underground railroad in Delaware. I guess Dr. Berry's done her work well in sparking in me a desire to learn more about it. It is surprising information and she's right--it goes against my "good guy/bad guy"preconceptions. The book left me feeling like I wished I knew more. The book is very eloquent on exactly THAT--not bringing our preconceptions to the history of the U.S. All history is complex. And our history is a shared history. I guess then it's a wonderful book. Thinking out loud, it does what it set out to do rather well.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Owen

    Bertice Berry is a talented author, and this book is her penance for smearing the name of a good man. To her eternal credit, she dodges none of the blame and does her best to right in nonfiction a wrong she committed in fiction. Along the way we get to learn of her pain and growth, she shares terrible and wonderful stories from her past, of the growth of her family and her family's history with the tragic and the heroic. It is a short book and an easy ready, but I learned much more than I knew a Bertice Berry is a talented author, and this book is her penance for smearing the name of a good man. To her eternal credit, she dodges none of the blame and does her best to right in nonfiction a wrong she committed in fiction. Along the way we get to learn of her pain and growth, she shares terrible and wonderful stories from her past, of the growth of her family and her family's history with the tragic and the heroic. It is a short book and an easy ready, but I learned much more than I knew about the interesting history of Delaware's slave status (interesting, I promise- the state was split, and Dr. Berry's ancestors lived on the southernmost hub of the Underground Railroad. Also, slave spirituals were supposedly code dealing with the Underground Railroad). Worth a read, particularly if you have been a fan of Dr. Berry's fiction. Owen Gardner Finnegan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I was really looking forward to listening to a book that had more history in it. This came off as a combination of a maudlin memoir and a self-help book--and I have never read a self-help book in my life and really didn't want to start now. It was a struggle to make it to the end on this one, and I found myself yelling at the author to "GET ON WITH THE STORY!" a number of times. Oh well, that is one way to stay awake when you are driving, I guess. I was really looking forward to listening to a book that had more history in it. This came off as a combination of a maudlin memoir and a self-help book--and I have never read a self-help book in my life and really didn't want to start now. It was a struggle to make it to the end on this one, and I found myself yelling at the author to "GET ON WITH THE STORY!" a number of times. Oh well, that is one way to stay awake when you are driving, I guess.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    I have had the opportunity to read a number of excellent memoirs over the past year and this one fits into it. I would say my only criticism of the book is that I would like to have seen the author expound on a number of things that I feel that she just touched on. The book was short, only 170~some odd pages, and could have been longer. That is the only reason it didn't get 5 stars from me. I have had the opportunity to read a number of excellent memoirs over the past year and this one fits into it. I would say my only criticism of the book is that I would like to have seen the author expound on a number of things that I feel that she just touched on. The book was short, only 170~some odd pages, and could have been longer. That is the only reason it didn't get 5 stars from me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    A look at the writer's search for her family history. She knew she would find pain and heartbreak from the years of slavery endured by her ancestors, but she also discovered hope, enlightenment, and new perspective into how the old connects with the new. Very good read (she's also from the area i work in, so it was interesting to see places that I'm familiar with being mentioned). A look at the writer's search for her family history. She knew she would find pain and heartbreak from the years of slavery endured by her ancestors, but she also discovered hope, enlightenment, and new perspective into how the old connects with the new. Very good read (she's also from the area i work in, so it was interesting to see places that I'm familiar with being mentioned).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I wish I could've met the author's mother - she sounds like a wonderful person (once she got past the first part of her life & even then, I am sure there were glimpses of the person she was). This book also helped me understand more about African Americans & their culture. I wish I could've met the author's mother - she sounds like a wonderful person (once she got past the first part of her life & even then, I am sure there were glimpses of the person she was). This book also helped me understand more about African Americans & their culture.

  27. 4 out of 5

    reneeNaDaBomb

    I really loved listening to this memoir. I actually listened to the four CDs twice. It was informative. Showing how family stories are passed down to make a rich & colorful tapestry of life. From her grandma to her mom and through Bertice Berry we get this awesome read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mercedes

    a must own, shoud be required reading

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I found the info in the book very interesting. It tended to get a little repeatative though.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Lovely thoughts, too many random lovely thoughts.

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