LJ Reviews 2019 January #1
Cottom, (sociology, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.; Lower Ed) presents her first collection of essays, chronicling her life as a black woman in America. In eight timely and direct pieces, Cottom discusses everything from the importance of seeing oneself reflected in literature and the meaning of beauty to the Trump administration, #MeToo, and other events of the modern day. Common threads involving the black experience, current events, and moments from Cottom's own life run through each essay. With such broad themes, the work sometimes feels disjointed, but Cottom writes with great clarity and familiarity, which makes her essays a pleasure to engage with despite their wide breadth. Highly accessible and to the point, this is a great sketchlike anthology for fans of authors such as Roxane Gay. VERDICT Cottom offers a skimming discussion on the challenges of being black and a woman in America while making excellent points. Readers interested in social justice will find a number of quotable passages, whether for casual or academic use.—Abby Hargreaves, Dist. of Columbia P.L.
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2018 November #4
In eight incisive, witty, and provocative essays, debut author Cottom (Lower Ed), a Virginia Commonwealth University assistant sociology professor, highlights structural inequalities and explores the black female experience in contemporary America. She lucidly reflects on her personal story, as the daughter of parents who moved north to Harlem, where she was born, then back to the South. To this, she adds data and research, showing, for instance, that regardless of education level, black women are commonly treated as "incompetent" in the health care system, where they are "243% more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than white women." Cottom goes on to observe that black women and girls fear speaking up about sexual abuse, due to the extra "burden of protecting the reputations of black boys and men" and that, despite "generations of earned and inherited moral philosophy that has sustained families, communities and institutions," aren't seen as authorities on much of anything. Other topics include LinkedIn as an emblem of neoliberalism's failure, tensions between African-Americans and black people from other countries, and how beauty and self-esteem are treated as commodities. The collection showcases Cottom's wisdom and originality and amply fulfills her aim of telling "powerful stories that become a problem for power." (Jan.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.