Review of Chicken Soup For The African-American Woman’s Soul
Chicken Soup For The African-American Woman’s Soul: Laughter, Love And Memories To Honor The Legacy Of Sisterhood
by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Lisa Nichols.
Published by Health Communications, Inc: Deerfield Beach, Florida (2006) 334 pp.
Like the famous advertising slogan from the 1960s, promising that “You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Love Levi’s” rye bread, you don’t have to be an African-American woman to savor the wonderful stories contained in this volume. Although the editors and publishers of the many “Chicken Soup” titles have figured out that targeting specific demographics undoubtedly sells books, it shouldn’t limit readers who could use some heart-warming and inspiring narratives, no matter what their ethnicity or cultural background.
The stories are organized in sections that range from tributes to grandmothers and mothers; the distinctive beauty of African-American women; relationships with sisters, be they friends or family; the power of prayer and relationships with black men, among others. Topics range from becoming an adoptive mother, being an unwed mother, enduring jail, and being the first in a family to graduate from college, to somehow becoming the family matriarch, complete with the cooking skills of generations of women who’ve gone before.
The women whose voices resound so clearly here confront prejudice and hard times, like the isolation of being one of the few African-American women in a prestigious writers’ workshop program in Iowa or a young black student at a mostly white Catholic high school in New Jersey (Kwanzaa on the Prairie, Queen Charlene), as well as grace and the serendipity of a chance encounter that transforms their lives (The Bus Vouchers). Many of them transcend hurt feelings to forgive those in their lives who betrayed them, or abandoned them, or let them down.
Above all, however, the stories that stay with me are those of the daughters and granddaughters, whose every act and accomplishment is a tribute to their mothers and grandmothers–these are indeed impressive, and enduring, legacies.#