Black Is the Body by Emily Bernard

Black Is the Body

An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir (of sorts) that looks at race--in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way--in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays that explore, up-close, the complexities and paradoxes, the haunting memories and ambushing realities of growing up black in the South with a family name inherited from a white man, of getting a PhD from Yale, of marrying a white man from the North, of adopting two babies f...

Details Black Is the Body

TitleBlack Is the Body
Release DateJan 29th, 2019
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Writing, Essays, Race

Reviews Black Is the Body

  • K
    Wow *cracks knuckles* this book y'all. The introduction and first essay is amazing. So amazing that I had to put the book down and grasp for air. After that, it seemed as though the book went downhill for me, for several reasons. I have a lot in common with the author of this book. I grew up in the south and moved to the North. My mother's family resides on the same historical land that they have since the end of (and during) slavery. I entered w...
  • Jan Rice
    This book is a jumble of ideas and stories. The author is a seeker. But sometimes her ideas exist right next to each other without touching, that is, without the author's connecting them. For example, the very first story is on the episode of mass violence that the author says gave her her voice (allowed her to begin writing): she was among the victims in a 2001 stabbing near Yale in a New Haven coffee bar where she had been one of the patrons. A...
  • Traci at The Stacks
    The earlier essays were good. I could really relate to her thinking and experiences. However as the book went on they felt repetitive. I think overall it could’ve been less. Also worth saying. This is a book filled with intimate small essays not essays on giant trauma. It’s not about the pain of blackness. It’s about Bernard’s experiences as a black woman.
  • Lacey
    Meh. Obviously, this book wasn't written for me. It was written for a non-black audience. The majority of the essays feature the author describing mundane interactions between her husband/daughters/family friends and trying to find some racial significance in them. Maybe it was meant to be intimate and show what it is like to live as a black person in a white space; instead, these moments felt shallow and forced. Worse, in each of these moments, ...
  • Tricia Nociti
    Profound, compelling, relatable, and full of purpose. A new and important addition to the conversation of race and privilege going on in America right now. Ms. Bernard shares the story of her stabbing, her black physical body and also her black cultural body experience. Her willingness to share her vulnerability is apparent and I appreciated it very much. I was struck with a visceral reaction when she confessed to her internal struggles and belie...
  • Leigh Kramer
    The first few chapters were more academic in tone, which can be harder for me as a reader. But then Bernard delved more into her story and I was blown away.This is not a linear memoir and the stories aren’t always connected in obvious ways. But they do have power and I’m very glad I read each essay. Towards the end, Bernard notes: “In every scar there’s a story. The salve is the telling itself.” And I think that sums up this book rather...
  • April
    I waited to rate this book as I wanted to think about it more and I finally decided on 4 stars. I really enjoyed the book.
  • Keertana
    Rating: 3.5 Stars
  • Kate
    A definite contender for my personal best books of 2019 list! This book is a gift. I savored every essay.
  • Awkward Book Nook (Stephanie)
    Teen fantasy is my staple, so this is definitely a change of pace. Also, this review is coming from a white woman who lives in the South, in a place that is 76% white, and racial tension and prejudices are fairly common.This book is written so well and felt so genuine. After the first story (which blew my mind), the essays taper off in pace. But I was already captivated by her words. I loved the contrasts and comparisons to her life in the south ...
  • Julie Rand
    This has been my favorite book so far this year. Bernard's essays gave me so much to think about, especially about the topic of race, in an honest, non-judgmental way. As an adoptive mother, I also loved reading about her adoption of twins from Ethiopia. Bernard's essays are personal but not self-pitying; even the first in which she describes being stabbed for no reason in a coffee shop in New Haven. She talks about being one of the few black peo...
  • Katie
    I found the tone of this book to be somewhat detached, but also I read so much of fear in these essays. I did not connect with the narration, but I wish I had. With the subtitle, I had expected to see more about family experiences throughout generations, but I didn't get a lot of that either. This was kind of a letdown for me because I really thought I would love the process of reading it.
  • Jeanie Phillips
    I LOVED this book with my whole heart! Emily Bernard's essays are rich and deep and timely and beautiful. The writing is gorgeous, the sentiments are layered and complex, every word rings true. The last essay in the book, "People Like Me" should be required reading for all Vermonters. I spoke with a 9th grader at Teen Lit Mob yesterday who suggested this book as one teachers ought to be teaching and I completely agree! Highly highly recommend!
  • Kate
    Just read this in one sitting. Insightful and beautifully written essays.
  • Esther Gulli
    Spectacular! An amazing tapestry of essays woven together with grace and elegance. Bernard’s book should be required reading for all first year college students. Her reflections on race and otherness are deep and thought provoking. But what I found most moving were her essays on family - her childhood growing up in Nashville and family pilgrimages to Mississippi - the life she’s created in her new home in Vermont with her Italian husband and ...
  • Violeta
    Bernard’s essays are thoughtful and complex. Her writing on race, motherhood, place, and the various intersections of those across generations, will stay with me long after reading this book.
  • Lisa Porter
    Emily Bernard, what a story teller! Loved this book. I laughed, cried, reflected, and learned. Can’t wait to read it again. Emily’s words are magic. Some parts I just want to read over and over again because the writing is so beautiful.
  • Adam
    While Emily Bernard titled her book Black Is the Body, I did not expect the myriad ways that her words could inhabit my mind - ways in which her words seemed to form an almost physical presence. As a teacher, I have spent a good deal of time reading essays, biographies, articles, and stories about issues of race. Assuredly I have not read them all, not even close. Of those works about race that I *have* read, this novel explored race through a bl...
  • SharonMO
    I found each essay captivatingly intimate. I especially love how Emily expresses her deliberations and honest interpretations of life and humanity. Black Is The Body is a fluid, lovely, meaningful read.If you value motherhood, family, friendship, culture and human connections, you will love this book!
  • Kristin
    A beautiful essay collection about the complexities of living in a black female body in America. Lyrical and literary. Personal and communal.
  • Leo Arnold
    Interesting perspective on race relations. Author began writing when hospitalized after being stabbed by a white man.
  • Leena Dbouk
    I'm usually not a memoir fan but from page one I found Emily Bernards writing compelling, honest and insightful. She opened my eyes to things like adoptive motherhood and various challenges we face when talking about race in America. I only wish she had challenged non black Americans more on their use of language and perspective. Regardless, I really felt this was a fantastic introduction to intersectionality.
  • Lindsay Nixon
    Maybe "essays" memoirs just don't work for me? Shrug.The entire book felt messy and disorganized. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, particularly not someone who was looking for an insightful memoir on race/what it is like to be black in America (like I was). After reading I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness I wanted more (and this was not it). The essays are Bernard describing encounters/interactions between her (or someo...
  • Eric
    Bernard has put together a very solid collection of essays that gave me a feeling that I was reading the transcript of her own internal conversation. Black is the Body is what the title suggests: a collection of essays written her life as a black woman, incorporating experiences that have shaped her - past and present. She opens the book with an essay about being stabbed in a random attack by a mentally ill man and goes on to discuss her own stru...
  • K2 -----
    Ms. Bernard is a good writer. As someone who has not lived in the South or in Vermont, or adopted children from another country this book was still relatable. Others have criticized this book for being geared toward a white audience, perhaps they expected something they didn't get? I felt the book gave me insights that broadened my knowledge and perspective---I too am a partner in a successful mixed-race marriage. I thought about my reading of Th...
  • Michelle
    Beautifully written, intelligent and sensitive essays about the intersection of black and white in America and in the author's life. This was really just lovely, and thought-provoking. The author writes about so many things--living as a black woman in Vermont. Growing up in the South. Her mother and grandmother's lives. Her marriage to a white man. Her twin daughters adopted from Ethiopia--each subject treated with great thought and care. This wa...
  • Laura Partington
    Beautifully and simply written. Challenging and powerful stories. Real. I would read anything and everything by this author.