Title: Coffee Will Make You Black
Author: April Sinclair
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: Aug 18th 2015
Page Number: 240 pages
An African American girl comes of age during the civil rights movement in April Sinclair’s hilarious, insightful novel that was named Book of the Year (Young Adult Fiction) for 1994 by the American Library Association
Jean “Stevie” Stevenson lives in Chicago’s South Side, a neighborhood that acutely feels the social changes of the 1960s. Curious and witty, bold but naïve, Stevie ponders questions such as what makes good hair, and which skin shade is better in light of “Black Is Beautiful.” Amid the War on Poverty, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., race riots, and the Black Power movement, Stevie grows into a socially aware young adult with a burgeoning sexuality and pride in her identity. Learning as much from her mother’s strictness, her father’s steady encouragement, and her grandmother’s strength as she does from her wild friend Carla and her white teacher Nurse Horne, Stevie makes the sometimes harrowing, often hilarious, always enthralling journey into adulthood.
Coffee Will Make You Black received the Carl Sandburg Award from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library.
What I Thought:
Firstly, I have no idea what this book about. The title definitely catched my attention. I was hoping that this book gonna brought me for some racial issues. Well, it is. But, there were things that disturbed me as well.
Mama, are you a virgin?"
That's the first line in this book. It kinda surprised me, because the question came from twelve years old Jean "Stevie" Stevenson. And to add more surprises, at least in my opinion, there were so many convos in this book which around sex things and most of it came from preteens. Most of Stevie and Carla (especially Carla) talked about is how to had a boyfriend and get laid. I realized that this is the part of the culture which way different with mine. But still, it made me nervous (I have a two and a half y.o daughter, which I imagined to have this kind of conversation with her, someday).
The other things that pretty disturbed me is Stevie's parents. Her Daddy is a janitor in a hospital and her Mama is a bank teller. I don't like how her Mama disrespected her husband and I also don't like how a mother portrayed here. In this book, Stevie and her mother kinda have a love-hate relationship. I love the innocent in Stevie's questions to her Mama, but I dislike how her Mama answered. Probably, open mind conversation (especially about sex thing) still forbidden in that time. To be honest, most of YA I've read recently portrayed a mother in the pathetic ways. How a mother could be so mean, hard to understood their children, forced them to be what she liked without considering what the kids wanna do and other things like that, which made a mother is kinda a bad witch. To be honest, I really don't get it.
The racial things wrapped the whole book through the convos. Even though the racist scenes undescribed literally, I could felt in every convos how frustrating the black people about how the white people threat them (the setting of this book is around 1967-1969). I felt the enthusiasm as the effect of Martin Luther King's speech and also the sad and anger when he'd assasinated. This book gave us those kind of emotions.
I also finally know that black people slang is interesting.
Black folks on Illinois prairie call parties "sets". And if you dressed up, we called it "jumpin' cleans" or "gettin' clean". And like I told you before, white folks, "hoogies". If you're dating a white person, we refer to you as "hunting Greyhound" or simply "riding the bus"
I could imagined the way Grandma Dickens swing her words and I think it's amazing.
And...the biggest thing of all....nobody told me that this book has sequel (and as the bonus from the publisher, the 40 pages of Ain't Gonna Be the Same Fool Twice: A Novel promised me a good material!).