When I was young, books saved me from boredom and my mind withering away. There were so many I can’t recall them all. Getting lost in stories and reimagining myself as the characters protected me from deep depression. Books like “Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren helped me escape into a fantasy world of possibilities.
As I got a little older and was exposed to black writers, there was “The Bluest Eye” and “Sula” by Toni Morrison, which I still have in my home library. These books gave me insight into complex black characters, black girls/women, in hauntingly sad and hopeless situations. These women became a part of me.
I got into Zora Neal Hurston’s, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, which for a long time, was my favorite book. Learning about the African American experience in the south in the early 20th century through fiction was mesmerizing. The words that come to mind for this book as a Haitian American girl are inspiration, love, beauty, innocence, hopelessness, and tragedy. Through it all, God carries us.
Then, “Breath, Eyes, and Memory” by Haitian author Edwidge Danticat became my favorite book and took over my life. I loved it so much because she spoke to my Haitian American roots. This book was written for me and about me. I loved it so much I gave it to my mom as a gift. I was not happy when I saw my stepfather with it as he proudly told me he wanted to read it too. That’s a different post.
In college and into adulthood, I was exposed to many other authors and genres of books such as “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, which I still have in my home library. Then, there was greek mythology and other literary prose. There’s “The Odyssey” by Homer that I purchased for my college English class still in my home library. What about the somber writer/poet Edgar Allen Poe?
Inumerable books by Toni Morrison, Zora Neal Hurston, Edwidge Danticat and countless other black writers, and poets like Nikki Giovanni, women and men writers, but mostly women as you can see, immeasurably changed my life.
These books allowed me to see myself, exposed me to the possibilities, provided an escape to another place and time, made me proud of the sheer gift of writing and poetry, fueled my imagination, educated me, developed my compassion, gave me insight into the injustices of the world, and instilled in me unshakable hope.