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Recommended Books on Grief, Trauma, Race & Healing

September 13th, 2020

I’m back to social work, after a decade of doing library and computer lab work (which is also social work, it turns out) in the K-12 schools. I’ve been in trainings, meetings, and collecting book lists for most of the summer. Here are some picks. I’m going to list out (not review) all but the first title.

“The Big Finish,” a novel by Brooke Fossey (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2020, 326 pages, $26). Man, I love this book. First of all, I thought it was a young adult book when it arrived for review. Most of the titles I get are geared toward babies through the high school crowd. This one is a novel for the grown-ups, but I think some high schoolers would like it, too.

Duffy Sinclair and Carl Upton are best friends by happenstance — they’re well into in their 80s and both landed at the Centennial assisted living facility. It’s not that great, but it’s not that bad. They live in fear of slipping down — in their health, in their faculties, or just on the floor — and being stuck in a facility that’s not as nice. They’re worried about death, and life, when in through their window comes Josie, less than one-fourth their age. She’s possibly inebriated, she has a black eye, and she’s Carl’s granddaughter. Allegedly.

It’s a buddy story, it’s a family story, it’s about alcoholism and domestic violence and neglect, and how they impact families, individuals and all of us. It’s one of the sweetest books I’ve ever been lucky enough to read. The characters are thoroughly sketched out, the dialogue is great, and most of all, the story and the characters are believable and moving story. Highly recommended.

And now, a few titles, alphabetically by authors’ last name. I’ll keep adding to this list, it’s by no means comprehensive. Please add your suggestions in comments, if you’d like.

Alexander, Michelle, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

Connor, Leslie, “Waiting for Normal” (young adult novel about a girl, her mother, and child neglect)

Didion, Joan, “The Year of Magical Thinking”

Giovanni, Nikki, “Collected Poetry — 1968-1998”

Goble, Jillana, “No Sugar-Coating: The Coffee Talk You Need About Foster Parenting”

Harris, Nadine Burke, “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity”

Maynard, Joyce, “The Best of Us,” a memoir

Oluo, Ijeoma, “So You Want to Talk About Race”

Sanchez, Sonia, “Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems”

Sapolsky, Robert M., “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”

Tatum, Beverly Daniel, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race”

van der Kolk, Bessel (M.D.), “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma”

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