Between The World And Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

School Library Journal In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the Atlantic writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people-a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens-those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color. Pair with Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely's All American Boys (S. & S., 2015) for a lively discussion on racism in America. VERDICT This stunning, National Book Award-winning memoir should be required reading for high school students and adults alike.-Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Framed as a letter to his teenage son, Coates's (The Beautiful Struggle) account of race in America works as both memoir and meditation. The author explores several themes: the vulnerability of black bodies (the focus on the body borrowed from feminism), the "dream" (the product of those in America who "believe themselves to be white"), and the "Mecca" (Coates referring to his undergraduate experience at Howard University). It's not an optimistic book-the motives for hope and forgiveness on the part of black Americans are suspect, writes Coates, and the institutionalized racism built on white supremacy is portrayed as deeply ingrained in our heritage as a country. Most striking perhaps are the author's meditations on the frailty of the body and the fear that those who grow up black in America learn to feel for the safety of their bodies and those of their children-all made especially poignant by the author's atheism, which he contrasts with the sometimes inspirational history lessons that he was taught when young. The choice to have Coates read his own book works exceptionally well-his delivery is understated but powerful and gives a real voice to the anger and sadness behind the haunting lyricism of his writing. VERDICT An essential library purchase. ["This powerful little book may well serve as a primer for black parents, particularly those with sons, but also as a provocative read for anyone interested in a candid perspective on the headlines and history of being black in America. Highly recommended": LJ 8/15 starred review of the Spiegel & Grau hc.]-Victoria A. Caplinger, NoveList, Durham, NC Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus The powerful story of a father's past and a son's future. Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son's life. "I am wounded," he writes. "I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next." Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. "I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked," he remembers, "but powerfully afraid." His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, "had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people." He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand "that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white." Coates refers repeatedly to whites' insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now "that nothing so essentialist as race" divides people, but rather "the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do." After he married, the author's world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America's exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that "race" does not fully explain "the breach between the world and me," yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by "majoritarian bandits." Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live "apart from feareven apart from me." This moving, potent testament might have been titled "Black Lives Matter." Or: "An American Tragedy." Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list *Starred Review* In this brief book, which takes the form of a letter to the author's teenage son, Coates, the justly acclaimed author of the family memoir The Beautiful Struggle (2008), comes to grips with what it means to be black in America today. On the basis of his previous writing, Coates is the ideal candidate to even attempt such an ambitious undertaking. He has become an extraordinary essayist; that he succeeds here will rank him securely among his forerunners. The title is from a quotation by Richard Wright; the chief literary influence is James Baldwin; Coates' personal inspiration is Malcolm X; the crucible of the piece is Howard University; and behind it are the writings and attitudes handed down by Coates' father, publisher Paul Coates. Like Baldwin, Coates is both furious and judicious. When he took his son to visit Civil War battlefields, he felt as though he was a nosy accountant conducting an audit and someone was trying to hide the books. In the days after 9/11, Coates could not help seeing the celebrated police as no different from those who had recently killed a Howard classmate. And he desperately wants his son to know (as his father taught him) that American history too often equates with robbery, and its complacent boosters are hypocritical at best. There is awesome beauty in the power of his prose and vital truth on every page.--Levine, Mark Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Coates, a national correspondent at the Atlantic, delivers a mesmerizing, must-listen performance in this audio edition of his powerful meditation on race in America. Framed as a letter to his adolescent son and echoing the work of James Baldwin, the book mixes tales of the author's childhood, and his time at Howard University and in Paris, with reflections on the history of American empire, police violence, education, the destruction of black bodies, and the ongoing racial crisis in the United States. The author's reading is both conversational and compelling. Coates's well-paced narration adds depth to his prose, hooking listeners from the very start and presenting his ideas in a manner that is thoughtful, wise, and full of emotion. Coates is the only person who could have narrated this audiobook-and it should be required listening for all Americans. A Random/Spiegel & Grau hardcover. (July) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal In this extended open letter to his young son, Samori, Atlantic national correspondent and senior editor Coates (The Beautiful Struggle) reflects further on his unlikely road to manhood and escape from the maw of America's tradition-nay, heritage-of destroying the black body. Mixing memoir, discourse, and outcry, Coates details what it has meant and what it means to be black in America, especially what it has meant and means to be a black male. His review pays special attention to the American Dream amid the physically painful and exhausting realities of U.S. ghettos from slavery to the killing fields of Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore, where he grew up living in fear. Pleading for his son to understand the struggle even as it shifts in time and place, Coates cautions against illusions that America's racism exists in a distant past that needs not be discussed. VERDICT This powerful little book may well serve as a primer for black parents, particularly those with sons. However, it is also a provocative read for anyone interested in a candid perspective on the headlines and the history of being black in America. [See Prepub Alert, 4/27/15.]-Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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