[Booklist] Let The Circle Be Unbroken: A Few Favorite Books About Black American Families

Black family sitting down and having a meal at a table.

We all come from families and have family stories– whether epic, painful, dramatic, loving or joyful. It’s the last two that I think are particularly important to find in stories of Black American families, especially in the current climate. No matter the trauma and oppression we may face in America, Black families still have love, affection and happiness. They’re critical parts of our cultural narrative and should be appreciated. Here’s a mini-booklist of my favorite titles that feature the strength and love of Black families in the USA.

(The usual disclaimer: I am not a literary expert, I’m just a lady with a blog who reads a lot. Be nice if you comment, and for legal reasons I have to tell you that this blog has affiliate relationships and if you click and purchase anything from a link you find here, a commission will be earned.)

Let The Circle Be Unbroken / Mildred D. Taylor

This may seem like an odd choice given its setting in the Jim Crow Deep South. However, the Logan family’s togetherness and love shields and nurtures Cassie Logan and her 3 brothers as they protect each other and hang on the family farm. This is part of a series that is well worth reading in total. It’s also the source of the quote in the title of this blog, which in turn comes from this song.

Find the book HERE.

A Day Late And A Dollar Short / Terry McMillan

The multi-generational Price family in this novel have problems with addiction, abuse and money. Still, this is a very normal family dealing with the dramatic parts of life together–and while they’re culturally very Black, the book isn’t here to explain that, just the drama. This is probably my favorite McMillan novel, and it’s a lot of fun, too.

Find the book HERE.

What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day / Pearl Cleage

Ava moves in with her much older sister Joyce after a major health setback. Despite that–or maybe because of it–Ava finds a new partner and Joyce adopts an abandoned baby, and the sisters find themselves by forming family. Of course, their all-black Michigan town has a field day with the resulting drama…

I’ve written elsewhere about how personally inspiring this book was to me as a young woman. Find it HERE.

The Hate U Give / Angie Thomas

Strange choice, I know. This book is not about family–it’s about police brutality and a teenage girl’s response to it. Still, every time I re-read this book I’m struck by how loving and strong the Carter family is, and how real they feel. Star Carter’s family is what gets her through the devastating events of this book, and for that reason I include them here.

Find the book HERE.

Salvage The Bones / Jesmyn Ward

This is another book that is not just about a family. It’s about the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. However, teenage Esch, her brothers and her father have such genuine relationships with each other and their neighborhood that you can’t help but focus on that. Even in the most harrowing parts of the story, you know they’ll get through it together.

Find the book HERE.

See all these books in one place HERE, fellow readers. What’s your favorite Black family story?

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