Hot Best Seller

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Availability: Ready to download

An Oprah’s Book Club Selection A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About “This sweeping, brilliant and beautiful narrative is at once a love song to Black girlhood, family, history, joy, pain…and so much more. In Jeffers' deft hands, the story of race and love in America becomes the great American novel.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone and Another An Oprah’s Book Club Selection A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About “This sweeping, brilliant and beautiful narrative is at once a love song to Black girlhood, family, history, joy, pain…and so much more. In Jeffers' deft hands, the story of race and love in America becomes the great American novel.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone and Another Brooklyn Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • An Indie Next Pick • A People 5 Best Books of the Summer • A Good Morning America 15 Summer Book Club Picks • An Essence Best Book of the Summer • A Time 11 Best Books of the Month • A Washington Post 10 Books of the Month • A CNN Best Book of the Month • A Ms. Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Book Page Writer to Watch • A USA Today Hottest Summer Book • A Chicago Tribune Summer Must-Read • An Observer Best Summer Book • A Millions Most Anticipated Book • A Ms. Book of the Month • A BiblioLifestyle Most Anticipated Literary Book of the Summer • A Deep South Best Book of the Summer • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award The 2020 National Book Award–nominated poet makes her fiction debut with this magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era. The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders. Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead. To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.


Compare

An Oprah’s Book Club Selection A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About “This sweeping, brilliant and beautiful narrative is at once a love song to Black girlhood, family, history, joy, pain…and so much more. In Jeffers' deft hands, the story of race and love in America becomes the great American novel.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone and Another An Oprah’s Book Club Selection A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About “This sweeping, brilliant and beautiful narrative is at once a love song to Black girlhood, family, history, joy, pain…and so much more. In Jeffers' deft hands, the story of race and love in America becomes the great American novel.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone and Another Brooklyn Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • An Indie Next Pick • A People 5 Best Books of the Summer • A Good Morning America 15 Summer Book Club Picks • An Essence Best Book of the Summer • A Time 11 Best Books of the Month • A Washington Post 10 Books of the Month • A CNN Best Book of the Month • A Ms. Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Book Page Writer to Watch • A USA Today Hottest Summer Book • A Chicago Tribune Summer Must-Read • An Observer Best Summer Book • A Millions Most Anticipated Book • A Ms. Book of the Month • A BiblioLifestyle Most Anticipated Literary Book of the Summer • A Deep South Best Book of the Summer • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award The 2020 National Book Award–nominated poet makes her fiction debut with this magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era. The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders. Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead. To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.

30 review for The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Outstanding, brilliant, epic, intimate!!! No need to reinvent- previously great words written — Ron Charles, (professional reviewer for a reason), from the Washington Post said it best…. “It is, indeed, a mountain to climb, but the journey is engrossing, and the view from the summit will transform your experience of America”. It’s impossible to finish this novel without having fallen in love with Ailey Pearl Garfield—your heart break for her sister, Lydia, feel a personal sense of pride for having Outstanding, brilliant, epic, intimate!!! No need to reinvent- previously great words written — Ron Charles, (professional reviewer for a reason), from the Washington Post said it best…. “It is, indeed, a mountain to climb, but the journey is engrossing, and the view from the summit will transform your experience of America”. It’s impossible to finish this novel without having fallen in love with Ailey Pearl Garfield—your heart break for her sister, Lydia, feel a personal sense of pride for having committed to reading this, and feel blown away by debut author Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. “The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois” is a treasured experience — The characters emphasize many facets of real life heartbreak and beautiful complexities. Mixed-race family, Black feminism, friends, coming-of-age, love, passion, sexuality, wellness, abuse, rape, grief, loss, death, education, history… enraptured in delicious storytelling. Welcome to America. 🇺🇸 “And when we call for education we mean real education. We believe in work. We ourselves are workers, but work is not necessarily education. Education is the development of power and ideal. We want our children trained as intelligent human beings should be, and we will fight for all time against any proposal to educate black boys and girls simply as servants and underlings, or simply for the use of other people. They have a right to know, to think, to aspire”. ….W. E. B. Du Bois, “The Niagara Movement Address”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    To say that I am astounded by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers ambitious and epic novel, a family drama, would be an understatement, it is demanding, challenging and requires commitment from the reader for this is a long, well researched book that proves to be extraordinarily rewarding. I found this to be an intense and profoundly moving family history. Interspersed with the work of scholar WEB Dubois in the narrative, this is a richly detailed story of the complicated multigenerational heritage of a Bla To say that I am astounded by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers ambitious and epic novel, a family drama, would be an understatement, it is demanding, challenging and requires commitment from the reader for this is a long, well researched book that proves to be extraordinarily rewarding. I found this to be an intense and profoundly moving family history. Interspersed with the work of scholar WEB Dubois in the narrative, this is a richly detailed story of the complicated multigenerational heritage of a Black American family through the centuries of a troubling, turbulent, and all too real American history that includes slavery. This is not just a purely intellectual exercise but is underpinned with an understanding this knowledge impacts not just the mind but the entire body, how the real lived repercussions of that history is experienced by actual people, the pain, horror, trauma, joy and heartbreak. In a storyline that shifts from the past and present, Ailey Pearl Garfield goes in search of her family, a sense of belonging and her identity, an all encompassing history of incredible resilience and survival in the face of unbearable repression, grief, loss, abuse and other life challenges. The sheer scope of this novel is remarkable, in terms of education, learning, of what it is to be a woman, of American history and its songs, and how Ailey honours her ancestors. This is a subtly nuanced, intelligent read which packs an emotional punch, a must read that I find hard to do justice to. Cannot recommend this highly enough, particularly to anyone who has any interest in American history. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Whatever must be said to get you to heft this daunting debut novel by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, I’ll say, because “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” is the kind of book that comes around only once a decade. Yes, at roughly 800 pages, it is, indeed, a mountain to climb, but the journey is engrossing, and the view from the summit will transform your understanding of America. A poet whose most recent collection, “The Age of Phillis,” was longlisted for a National Book Award, Jeffers has poured a life Whatever must be said to get you to heft this daunting debut novel by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, I’ll say, because “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” is the kind of book that comes around only once a decade. Yes, at roughly 800 pages, it is, indeed, a mountain to climb, but the journey is engrossing, and the view from the summit will transform your understanding of America. A poet whose most recent collection, “The Age of Phillis,” was longlisted for a National Book Award, Jeffers has poured a lifetime of experience and research into this epic about the travails of a Black family. As any honest record of several centuries must, Jeffers’s story traverses a geography of unspeakable horror, but it eventually arrives at a place of hard-won peace. One of the many marvels of “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” is the protean quality of Jeffers’s voice. Sweeping back and forth across the years, her narration shifts nimbly to reflect the tenor of the times — from the shared legends of tribal people to the candid realism of the modern era. At the opening, set deep in the mists of history, we’re met with. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    “When we speak about history, we speak about somebody’s life.” The past woven with the present spanning generations, into one story of one black family, this is a stunning reflection of our history telling of the burdens and strength of women, black and Native American . It’s enlightening and moving, and it shook me to the core at times with so many incidents of sexual abuse not just of black women, but of children. It’s history we have to know about and remember, and it’s brought to life by rem “When we speak about history, we speak about somebody’s life.” The past woven with the present spanning generations, into one story of one black family, this is a stunning reflection of our history telling of the burdens and strength of women, black and Native American . It’s enlightening and moving, and it shook me to the core at times with so many incidents of sexual abuse not just of black women, but of children. It’s history we have to know about and remember, and it’s brought to life by remarkable characters who will leave an indelible mark in your mind and heart . An extraordinary book. I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Raymond

    The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois is a powerful intergenerational, feminist, and womanist novel. Honorée Jeffers tells the racial and class history of this country through this book, not with a lot of facts and dates although they are there you are not inundated with it. But she tells this history through the human relationships of her characters past and present. The novel spans from the pre-slavery era of the 1700s to the late 20th Century covering themes such as: racism, colorism, feminism, The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois is a powerful intergenerational, feminist, and womanist novel. Honorée Jeffers tells the racial and class history of this country through this book, not with a lot of facts and dates although they are there you are not inundated with it. But she tells this history through the human relationships of her characters past and present. The novel spans from the pre-slavery era of the 1700s to the late 20th Century covering themes such as: racism, colorism, feminism, classism, and intergenerational trauma. The novel is centered around the character of Ailey Garfield, a young Black girl who grows up in a Northern city with her two sisters Lydia and Coco. Her parents, Geoff and Belle, come from two very different worlds. Geoff comes from a Northern light-skinned, siddity Black family, who in many cases could pass for white. Belle’s family, which the novel is centered around, is a Southern dark-skinned, down-to-earth Black family from a town called Chicasetta, GA. There are certainly echoes of The Color Purple in this novel; it is referenced a few times. Chicasetta reminds Ailey of the town that Celie and Nettie lived in, and yet you see common themes that both Walker’s and Jeffers’s novels share, such as the power of female relationships and sexual assault within families. Another body of work that is referenced and quoted in the novel, and should be evident in the title, is the writings of the scholar W. E. B. Du Bois. Although Du Bois never actually appears as a character in this novel, outside of Uncle Roots' memory of the scholar, you can tell Du Bois’s scholarship, especially The Souls of Black Folk and Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880, inspired some of the themes of Jeffers’s novel. This is especially evident in the sections of the book focusing on Ailey’s Black and white ancestors. There are specific white family members who represent the white planter class and the poor white working class that Du Bois writes about in BRIA, Jeffers like Du Bois shows how racial resentment developed in the white working class characters against the Black characters. Outside of themes, the character that embodies Du Bois is Uncle Root. Root, Ailey’s great uncle, is a devotee of Du Bois who worked as a history professor and will become an important force in Ailey’s personal and professional career. The most important and pivotal characters in this novel are Black women. Characters like Belle, Lydia, Aggie, Eliza Two, Dr. Oludara, and of course Ailey. Some of these characters get to tell their stories of achievement, trauma, and relations with low-down men. I loved the character of Ailey. In her grad school days she represents every Black person who attended a PWI and has been subjected to white nonsense and casual racism. What’s special about Ailey is that she confronts these uncomfortable situations with humor and charm. I especially loved her in the moments she stood up for herself and her family, there were times when I yelled out “Go get ‘em girl”. There were also times I got frustrated with her, especially as it relates to some of men she got involved with. What I loved the most about Ailey was the connection she had with her ancestors: her occasional dreams of the long-haired lady, her devotion to her maternal side of the family, especially as it relates to her constant travelling down South to visit and spend time with her elderly relatives, but it also extends to what becomes her pinnacle moment which is the unearthing of her roots. She even makes some discoveries that her elders in Chicasetta do not know about. Anyone who has done genealogy can relate to how gratifying an experience it is to discover the ancestors who have essentially been searching and hoping for someone to find them. Love Songs is a very engaging and beautifully written book. Don’t be intimidated by its size because when you read it you won’t be able to stop and won’t be able to get it out of your mind. Even when it ends you will be wondering what happens next. I for one wanted to know more about Ailey and the future contributions she was going to make to her world. Lovers of American history will enjoy how Jeffers weaves history in this family’s story, especially as it relates to Ailey’s ancestors consisting of indigenous people, Black enslaved, Black freedmen and freedwomen, white elites, poor whites, and the constant power dynamics and class struggles that intersect between them. W. E. B. Du Bois would certainly be proud of this work. At the end of this novel, the reader may come to the realization that Ailey is not only an heir of her ancestors but is also an intellectual heir of Du Bois. But she is not alone, Honorée Jeffers by writing this magnificent book is also an heir of Du Bois in the ways she weaves his writings in every part of her work. Do yourself a favor, pick up this book, read it, and enjoy the ride. Thanks to NetGalley, Harper, and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, for a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released on August 24, 2021. Review was first posted here: https://medium.com/ballasts-for-the-m...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    [4.5] What do you say about a novel that somehow encompasses the history of the US -the real history - the theft of Native Americans' land, Black people sold as animals, White slave-owners and of all of their ancestors interrelated? Jeffers focuses on a few families over several centuries in this epic novel. There are times when historic details bogs down the narrative - but it is worth it. A magnificent novel. [4.5] What do you say about a novel that somehow encompasses the history of the US -the real history - the theft of Native Americans' land, Black people sold as animals, White slave-owners and of all of their ancestors interrelated? Jeffers focuses on a few families over several centuries in this epic novel. There are times when historic details bogs down the narrative - but it is worth it. A magnificent novel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nia J Reads

    Let me start off by saying WOW. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois has rightfully taken it's place in my top 10 books for 2021. I'll never say that something is impossible, because there are truly people in this world crazy enough to conquer and deliver such madness. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, made a conscious decision to put down her poetry pen and give the world an 800 page novel. Now in most cases 800 pages can be intimidating, but what Jeffers has done is pull you in and give you the warmest of Let me start off by saying WOW. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois has rightfully taken it's place in my top 10 books for 2021. I'll never say that something is impossible, because there are truly people in this world crazy enough to conquer and deliver such madness. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, made a conscious decision to put down her poetry pen and give the world an 800 page novel. Now in most cases 800 pages can be intimidating, but what Jeffers has done is pull you in and give you the warmest of southern hugs. The narrator, Ailey Garfield, starts off as a young girl telling all that she remembers growing up in her family. She, along with her sisters, spends her summers in Chicasetta, Georgia with her mother's side of the family. Where during each visit she experiences something worth repeating. There's something beautiful about being a city girl spending your summers in the country. Sitting on the porch snapping peas and listening to your grandmother tell stories of the past, hanging out by the creek without a care in the world. But make no mistake, this novel is not full of bliss, love, sunshine and rainbows. Jeffers gives us a history lesson on a Black family's lineage dating back to slavery. And, baby the truth is just as ugly as you can imagine. Going back and forth in time, Honorée tells us the story of Ailey's ancestors while Ailey tells the story of her present until the two meet in the middle and connect. There are plenty of moments that will have you laugh, cuss, cry, and plain old throw the book across the room. But it's SOOOOOO worth it! I was engaged from start to finish ! This book is necessary for the Black community especially, many of our stories get lost and buried. Family legacies are meant to be remembered and cherished, and with a LOT A BIT or research, many of us can find the truth about where we come from. I encourage everyone to add this to your TBR this summer, you won't be disappointed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    This is a black feminist treatise in the form of a family saga. It is extremely long and convoluted, but for the most part it held my interest. The modern day story focuses on Ailey Pearl Garfield and traces her life from the age of 3 to her 30s. However, the scope of the book is huge and starts with her African and Native American ancestors. Descriptions of the histories and experiences of these ancestors were interspersed with the Ailey story. Chapters are separated by quotations from the work This is a black feminist treatise in the form of a family saga. It is extremely long and convoluted, but for the most part it held my interest. The modern day story focuses on Ailey Pearl Garfield and traces her life from the age of 3 to her 30s. However, the scope of the book is huge and starts with her African and Native American ancestors. Descriptions of the histories and experiences of these ancestors were interspersed with the Ailey story. Chapters are separated by quotations from the works of W.E.B. Du Bois (and a few other writers). A thread running through all of these histories is the sexual abuse and exploitation of generations of women. There were a lot of predators in the family tree. Do not read this if you are particularly triggered by child molestation. It also deals with drug addiction, male chauvinism and the stratification of African Americans based on skin tone. Ailey’s family came in all colors. I found the parts of the book set in the past more interesting than the present. The story of life on the plantation was particularly compelling and often difficult to read. “The creatures: the horses, the cattle, the pigs, the chickens, the Negroes. Under the law, Samuel could do as he willed with any of his creatures—even kill—and no one would take him to task. Thus, any little girl he wanted was his to ruin as he saw fit.” An escaped slave later wrote to Samuel: “I forgive you for being the left-handed comrade of the Devil who whispers his desires in the dark and who you follow without hesitation. Truly I forgive you Master though you are a creature worthy of disgust without mitigation. Daily I pray for your ugly, miserable and tarnished soul.” I got a little bored by Ailey’s coming of age, school angst and sexual exploration. It took a really long time for her to find some focus. It wasn’t until she decided to become an historian like her great uncle Root that I started to like her. I did like her mother Maybelle though. I enjoyed her spirit: “Because I don’t want to have to leave your daddy on his sickbed and come kill somebody’s knucklehead son and then hide the body. But I will. And that’s my right hand slapped by Glory.” Uncle Root was also a very vivid character. This is quite an ambitious book and I think that the author covered a part of American history from a feminist prospective in a way that was informative, accomplished and entertaining. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway Win!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamise

    MAMA I MADE IT!!! I made it through 816 pages of pure MAGIC ✨ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ “We are the earth, the land. The tongue that speaks and trips on the names of the dead as it dares to tell these stories of a woman’s line. Her people and her dirt, her trees, her water.”⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ From the moment I read the first sentence I knew I was in for an epic journey. Without question, 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐋𝐎𝐕𝐄 𝐒𝐎𝐍𝐆𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝗪.𝐄.𝐁. 𝐃𝐔 𝐁𝐎𝐈𝐒 by #HonoreeFanonneJeffers is one of my favorite books of the year. I LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION. One of my all MAMA I MADE IT!!! I made it through 816 pages of pure MAGIC ✨ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ “We are the earth, the land. The tongue that speaks and trips on the names of the dead as it dares to tell these stories of a woman’s line. Her people and her dirt, her trees, her water.”⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ From the moment I read the first sentence I knew I was in for an epic journey. Without question, 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐋𝐎𝐕𝐄 𝐒𝐎𝐍𝐆𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝗪.𝐄.𝐁. 𝐃𝐔 𝐁𝐎𝐈𝐒 by #HonoreeFanonneJeffers is one of my favorite books of the year. I LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION. One of my all-time favorites is 𝘏𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 by Yaa Gyasi and I'm happy to add #TheLoveSongsofWEBDuBois to this list! I will be recommending this book to everyone. If you enjoy audiobooks like I do, this one is superb!! 🤩⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ DO NOT be intimidated by the length. This generational family saga has a multitude of layers and themes. The journey takes us from the appropriation of Native lands, to the African slave trade, through the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement to the early 2000's. Honorée knows how to tell a story! The characters are richly developed and the exploration of African American History is mind blowing. This is the coming of age story of Ailey Pearl Garfield, our protagonist, who is seeking to learn more about her ancestors and how they have shaped her. An memorable voyage that will stay with you. Honorée is deserving of all the good things that are coming her way when this book releases on 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟐𝟒𝐭𝐡. 🎉👏🏽 She's given us a MASTERPIECE!! I’m already jealous of everyone who will be reading it for the first time. I also see this as an awesome TV series!

  11. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    Wow. This was an intense read and worth every single second of the 800+ pages. I almost didn't want it to end so I kept pushing those last couple pages because it felt like we were together, Ms. Jeffers and I, as she walked me through legacy and history and experience. Reading this book, I felt... absorbed. It felt like I was present in every era, looking through the trees at the people before me, staring through the slats and the cracks in between the doors. It was emotionally gripping, thought Wow. This was an intense read and worth every single second of the 800+ pages. I almost didn't want it to end so I kept pushing those last couple pages because it felt like we were together, Ms. Jeffers and I, as she walked me through legacy and history and experience. Reading this book, I felt... absorbed. It felt like I was present in every era, looking through the trees at the people before me, staring through the slats and the cracks in between the doors. It was emotionally gripping, thoughtful, relatable and sometimes unbearable. Ms. Jeffers easily, seamlessly moved through the 1700s, 1800s, 1900s and brought you through 5 generations of family history from pre-slavery to the late 90s/early 00s. This book has completely overwhelmed me. It has overwhelmed every part of my mind. Ailey. My god what a character! What a woman. A character created from a line of perfectly crafted women characters. A warrior. A petty, messy, delightful, traumatized, hurt, loving, studious, and reflective queen. A fighter. All of the women in this story and the multitude of things that they have been through displays a heavy Alice Walker, The Color Purple, influence. The through-line that Black women, they keep going, they keep fighting is such a cherished lesson to share with others, especially when we still feel the remnants of these times and are still fighting through so much. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is such a powerful story of resilience. Resilience that no one should have to possess the way that the ancestors had to possess it. A very direct story about the steps you take to get somewhere, to reach a free place, to go in a direction different from where you started out.. This story got me on levels. The amount of research that Ms. Jeffers no doubt put into the creation of this novel is something else. I think I'm too overwhelmed to be coherent, but this was an absolute feat of writing. The talent that exists in the mind, body and spirit of Honorée Fannone Jeffers was definitely passed down from the ancestors. Those Toni Morrison comparisons are accurate and this is definitely the best fiction that I've read in 2021.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    This inspiring intergenerational novel is enlightening, illuminating and intelligent. It is a commitment well worth making. You will become enamored with Ailey as she searches for her identity, horrified by the plight of slaves, and thoroughly enjoy Uncle Root. Flawlessly executed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    TimInCalifornia

    Five stars and going onto my Favorites shelf. I don’t know that I can write an adequate review for this book but I’ll try. The story is a sweeping epic history of a Black family with roots in the American south. At the center of the story is Ailey Pearl Garfield, born in the early ‘70s, the youngest of three sisters. To understand Ailey, we’re taken on a journey to meet her ancestors, learn their history and the history of the land where they lived and labored in Georgia and where Ailey’s relati Five stars and going onto my Favorites shelf. I don’t know that I can write an adequate review for this book but I’ll try. The story is a sweeping epic history of a Black family with roots in the American south. At the center of the story is Ailey Pearl Garfield, born in the early ‘70s, the youngest of three sisters. To understand Ailey, we’re taken on a journey to meet her ancestors, learn their history and the history of the land where they lived and labored in Georgia and where Ailey’s relatives on her mother’s side live and work today. Jeffers has penned a masterful epic in that regard. Heavily researched, the story is an intimate history of the land in Georgia, which first was home to the Creek and Cherokee peoples. Like Leon Uris’ Trinity educated me on Irish history and Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth educated me on cathedrals and the Anarchy, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois has educated me about Black feminism in the United States. What struck me about the way Jeffers constructed this novel, and at 800+ pages this was no simple feat, was illumination of how an individual is influenced by generations of ancestors. Whether we are consciously aware of the specific persons or not, whether family lore has been passed down or not, that person, that ancestor, contributes more than DNA to the home in which we grow up. Even an absence or a separation shapes not just the present generation but future generations. Through the character of Ailey, and her mother Belle and sisters Coco and Lydia, we see how the past is pushed up against us, an invisible wall that is sometimes offering a sturdy support to lean against and sometimes blocking our progress. The wall can protect us or it can contain us. It’s doing both at once. In her adulthood Ailey begins researching her family’s history as enslaved persons on a Georgia plantation. That research, helped by stories from a great-great uncle, gives her a lot of factual information on ancestors 2, 3, 4 generations preceding her. She learns who some of them are as people, is able to get a fairly accurate understanding of their lives. She has both black and white ancestors in her lineage, along with Creek Indian further back. But the reader knows more than Ailey. The book breaks from Ailey’s life to chapters giving the reader full genealogical history of Ailey, starting with her people from Africa, how and why they were captured and sold by other Africans to Europeans, through the Middle Passage, to the colony of Georgia in America. We know all the details that are forever lost to Ailey, can see everything that pushed down through the years from mother to daughter or from mother to son or sometimes father to daughter or father to son. All that history brings us to Ailey, born in the 1970s, attending a HBCU in the ‘90s, researching her family history in the aughts. By the time Ailey is doing her research, the reader has learned much of the grim history she will piece together from scraps of information. And we are talking about generations of slave families on a plantation so make no mistake about how grim are some of the stories in this novel. This book goes to some very spirit-crushing places. It was difficult to be immersed for so long, page after page, with child sexual abuse and its results, to sit with the fact that a known sexual predator can be left alone so long as the children he chose and bought for his perversions were dark-skinned. I don’t mean that there are pages of graphic descriptions of abuse, but that it was perpetuated so often over so many years by some of the men in the book. Just reading and contemplating of the lives of slaves, especially female slaves, was enough to feel the heavy effects of claustrophobia. But stay with the book because Jeffers brings the reader forward. The grimness is there but it’s not all that is there and that grimness-that grime-has its justifiable and rightful place in this magnificent story. The story rewards you with Pop George and Uncle Root and Belle Driskell Garfield and her daughters, especially Ailey Pearl. The characters and their spirit rise and succeed. Not every day, because none of us succeed every day and in every way, but in the essentials – in their essence, their spirit brightens the journey. On a personal note, this book offered much of the education I always knew was missing. I was born in 1967 and from the age of 10-16 I lived in South Carolina. My father’s job had taken us there though neither of my parents had roots in the south, so southern culture was more witnessed than experienced firsthand. I remember having so many questions in my history classes but none of the questions had form. It was just that something seemed missing. If the questions had a form, it was more like “Why didn’t any of the Black kids in my class come on the field trip to Charleston in the 7th and 8th grades?” It was a 2 hour trip on the school bus and we visited a plantation and the old slave auction house. I can assure you that the day was treated more like a trip to an amusement park than an educational experience. I used to think that Black students didn’t go because it cost money (and that in itself showed a prejudicial assumption.) But I’ve since realized it was probably because…why would any parent of a child of color let their child go on a field trip like that without being 100% sure that the trip would be well-curated for their emotional health? Having read this book, I have no doubt that was why no Black parent signed the authorization slip allowing their child on those field trips. I also remember being confused by the 1/8th rule which we learned about in history class – why did that law have to be put on the books when in my observation (remember, this was South Carolina in the early 1980s), black people were married to black people and white people were married to white people. It wasn’t until many years later that I figured out white men wanted to codify how many black ancestors one could have because they knew that the rape of women under their control was common and that births as a result of these assaults were common. I’m afraid I’m painting a dreary portrait here and The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is decidedly NOT dreary. It is an absorbing, fascinating read and the 800+ pages go quickly. I could see my own mother in Belle Garfield, an educated woman who achieved less professionally than she could have due to the generation into which she was born, the arrival of a child early in marriage and the expectation that a mother must first care for home and child. Woven into the book is the importance of food to one’s culture and its connection to the past, how preparation of cherished dishes are handed down from generation to generation is its own sort of history. I was never interested in joining the Greek system in college but I think that had I been black and attending an HBCU, it would have appealed (though I am gay and have read George M. Johnson so that probably would have been a rough road.) No matter your racial, ethnic or gender identity, you’ll find yourself in deep understanding with a character in this book along the way and probably more than one character. Yes, if you are white, especially a white male, you will cringe at how casually accepted were the inhumane acts of slaveowners. My advice would be to read with humility and stay humble as you consider the history we are all living with, whether we know the specifics of our own ancestors or not. Thank you to the author, Harper Publishing, and #Netgalley for the free #ARC.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Allen

    I absolutely LOVED this book! Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read this novel! I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to read Honorée Jeffers’ first literary novel. I have found over the years that poets oftentimes make the absolute best novels, and she is definitely a testament to that! This was a very long book, however, it was enjoyable and I was sad that it wasn’t longer. The Love Songs of WEB DuBois is not only a story about a young woman’s I absolutely LOVED this book! Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read this novel! I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to read Honorée Jeffers’ first literary novel. I have found over the years that poets oftentimes make the absolute best novels, and she is definitely a testament to that! This was a very long book, however, it was enjoyable and I was sad that it wasn’t longer. The Love Songs of WEB DuBois is not only a story about a young woman’s discovery of her family history but it is also a coming of age story. Though there is one main character that ties everyone together, Ailey Pearl Garfield, there are other supporting characters that have voices that are just as integral and important to the novel. Ailey’s parents- Maybelline and Geoff, her 2 sisters, Lydia and Coco, her great uncle Root, her grandmothers, and a host of other characters help to tell the story without being too many voices. As a huge fan of Black historical fiction, I found myself completely captivated by the stories of Ailey’s ancestors that tied in a lot of historical facts that I never knew about. Adding later: Throughout the book there is a woman, the “long haired lady” that comes to Ailey in her dreams. We later find that she is one of Ailey’s ancestors. With a touch of the spiritual/super natural, I think the author was implying that Ailey and her mother, and most likely her sister, Lydia, were a bit what I would call clairvoyant because they had dreams and visions that later manifest in their or someone else’s lives. There was one part in the book when both the long haired lady and Lydia come to Ailey together in a dream/vision. They save her life in the spirit and physical world. This part of the story, amongst others, absolutely brought me down. The book covers a wide range of topics such as slavery, rape, drug use, and suicide. The story travels backward and forward telling the story of the past while tying it into the present. There were moments when I would go back to re read something from previous chapters just to make sure I was “picking up” what Jeffers was “putting down” making me that much more engaged in the story and invested in the lives and well-being of the characters. While reading this I had a few of misty/teary eyed/ugly cry moments but I was so enraptured that I couldn’t stop myself. After reading this I crave more knowledge about my own ancestral connections and stories about lesser known but still just as important people that paved the way for us all. Though Jeffers is more straight forward with her writing than Toni Morrison, I cannot help but to see the similarities in the use of her language and also the incorporation of spirits or the super natural. I cannot stop talking about this book, and cannot wait til more people read it so that I have other people to gush about it with lol. Even though it is lengthy, this would be an excellent selection for a book club. Update: started re read with audio book companion and I'm so excited bc I love all of the narrators! also adding notes and links for research Update 9/4/21 (some mild spoilers but not to plot lines) Finished the 2nd read/listen and wow! I have so much to study and ponder. I had to write out the Pinchard family tree just to make sure I was not tripping when I made the connection with Lil May and Big Thom😯😯😯😯 There was SO MANY secrets and so much shame in this story. I guess that’s how families are in reality, but LORD! I wish that Coco had more time in this story as the only LGBTQA character, however, from the interactions we had with her throughout the novel, I understood her distance from the family. I still ugly cried during Lydia’s story bc she deserved better. We all know a Lydia whether we know it or not. I just wanted to reach through the pages and tell her that she was enough and that what happened was not her fault. I will admit that I thought the GOTCHA of the story would be Ailey being Lydia’s daughter the first time I read it. The theme of twins through Samuel’s line wasn’t lost on me either. I don’t know if this was a type of symbolism that Honoreé was using but I feel like there was a reason that each generation had twins. Samuel was a bastard. He had a choice and opportunity to be a better person and chose not to be. I hope that he is rotting in hell. Also, it’s not lost on me how they couldn’t escape generational curse of sexual violence/incest. I couldn’t make a connection of the Garfield’s to the Pinchard’s other than Geoff and Belle’s marriage so it’s like the child paying for the sins of their father. This book was DEEP and has left me full, but not sated. Now I hunger for more.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Crystal (Melanatedreader) Forte'

    A historical masterpiece. Rich and well written. This takes you on a journey through generations. If you love historical fiction this is one to add to the Pre-order list. So many gems. So much wisdom.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    3.5 There is a lot to admire in this novel. It's breadth is impressive and it's length does not come at the expense of readability. There are genuinely moving moments that linger in my head and the voice of the narrators are incredibly powerful. Jeffers unapologetically Black Feminist lens is also a welcome perspective. I have qualms though with significant sections that I need time to process. This book will be the very wide read and likely an award contender so I'll have time to provide more th 3.5 There is a lot to admire in this novel. It's breadth is impressive and it's length does not come at the expense of readability. There are genuinely moving moments that linger in my head and the voice of the narrators are incredibly powerful. Jeffers unapologetically Black Feminist lens is also a welcome perspective. I have qualms though with significant sections that I need time to process. This book will be the very wide read and likely an award contender so I'll have time to provide more thought out feelings.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Shindler

    Honoree Fanonne Jeffers has written a wide ranging immersive novel that is a multigenerational saga. It is a kaleidoscope of the Black experience in America that swirls and shifts through time periods.It follows one family’s history and links it to the violence, rapacity and miscegenation imbedded in America’s past.Strands of courage and resilience also permeate the narrative. This artfully done creation will challenge the reader and linger in one’s thoughts long afterwards. The novel is carried Honoree Fanonne Jeffers has written a wide ranging immersive novel that is a multigenerational saga. It is a kaleidoscope of the Black experience in America that swirls and shifts through time periods.It follows one family’s history and links it to the violence, rapacity and miscegenation imbedded in America’s past.Strands of courage and resilience also permeate the narrative. This artfully done creation will challenge the reader and linger in one’s thoughts long afterwards. The novel is carried forward in two recurring threads.The primary voice is that of the Garfield family, told through the first person narrative of Ailey Pearl Garfield.Born in 1973,Ailey is the youngest of three daughters whose forebears were slaves and then tenant farmers in Georgia.Her family lives in an unnamed city in the North and travels every summer to the matrilineal family seat, the small rural fictional town of Chicasetta.Ailey’s narrative connects to her maternal relatives covering a span from the late stages of slavery through Barak Obama’s presidential candidacy. Ailey’s modern day story is punctuated by short chapters entitled “Songs.” These sections chronicle Ailey’s descendants back to the beginning of slavery. The foundational transgressions that beset America are detailed by her descendants’ stories. We are exposed to the kidnap of Africans, the enslavement of black people,the removal of the Indian population from their rightful lands along with the attendant genocide of this population.These sections are among the most moving and emotional in the novel. The two narratives begin to coalesce as Ailey enters her college years, depicting the post Civil Rights era and beyond. Ailey’s experiences illustrate how skin tone, education, privilege and gender can be factors that inflame long standing prejudices.She aspires to be a historian and her academic research interests begin to link her descendants’ roots to the fissures and triumphs of current times. This novel should not be read with alacrity.The author nimbly shifts through time periods and characters.Sometimes it is difficult to make the lineal connections between all the permutations and branches of the Garfield family. This difficulty in fact seems to be an intentional construct that emphasizes the tangled genetic strains and influences that have mixed together to create the variety of culture and experience in America. By creating a vibrant array of characters, Ms.Jeffers deftly guides us through an important foundational story of American history. Her narrative has a distinctly matriarchal slant yet is encompassing enough to incorporate a broad spectrum of viewpoints.She has crafted a work that is unstinting in its harsh realties, is enhanced with vibrant prose and ultimately is a testament to the power of resilience and connection to one’s past.This novel will undoubtedly generate a lot of discussion and hopefully will inspire additional works that explore these concepts through a variety of perspectives.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    When you start reading Honorée Fanonne Jeffers' The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, you're making a commitment. At 800+ pages—and none of it the kind of stuff you can skim through—you'll be spending the equivalent of two full work days reading. In addition, this is not lightweight reading. Love Songs has some great moments of humor, but on the whole this is a book with a lot of hardship—generations worth of hardship—so you need some strength to make your way through it. I can, however, promise that When you start reading Honorée Fanonne Jeffers' The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, you're making a commitment. At 800+ pages—and none of it the kind of stuff you can skim through—you'll be spending the equivalent of two full work days reading. In addition, this is not lightweight reading. Love Songs has some great moments of humor, but on the whole this is a book with a lot of hardship—generations worth of hardship—so you need some strength to make your way through it. I can, however, promise that your effort in terms of time and heartache will be well worth it. Love Songs is the kind of book for which the adjective "epic" was intended. It moves back and forth in time, exploring the history of a single family, beginning with Creek Indians before this land had a large white presence and also on the shores of Africa in the midst of the slave trade. By its end, the novel has reached 2007 or 2008, when Obama is running for President, but hasn't yet been elected. Jeffers' central present-day character, Ailey, is a young black women (a child at the novel's start, in her early 30s at the novel's end) balancing life in the city and life at "home" in Chicasetta, the location where all the many generations of her family—indigenous, African, Black, and white—have come in contact, often with painful results. (CW: sexual abuse of children in several generations.) Reading Love Songs, witnessing the interactions of past and present and their impact on individual lives, provides a complex overview of the history of the U.S. that would seem impossible—if it weren't for the fact that Jeffers is doing it. Take the time to read this title, embrace the fact that you'll need to move through it slowly and that you'll be deeply uncomfortable sometimes while you read. That's how we learn: a mix of pain and laughter, a longitudinal focus, and the necessary days and years and generations to build up experience and knowledge. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss; the opinions are my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Want a brilliantly told epic story of a young Black woman's ancestry. Readers should know that there are several detailed (but not overly explicit) scenes of rape, incest, and child sexual abuse. Readers may be a bit bewildered by the beginning of the story and where everything ties in. Trust the author's process! It will all tie in together. I don't always enjoy historical fiction stories with a contemporary main character. More often than not, I find the contemporary character's s Read if you: Want a brilliantly told epic story of a young Black woman's ancestry. Readers should know that there are several detailed (but not overly explicit) scenes of rape, incest, and child sexual abuse. Readers may be a bit bewildered by the beginning of the story and where everything ties in. Trust the author's process! It will all tie in together. I don't always enjoy historical fiction stories with a contemporary main character. More often than not, I find the contemporary character's storyline not nearly as compelling or fleshed-out as the historical aspect. Ailey's personal struggles, coming-of-age, tragedies, and triumphs were the highlights of the story. Librarians/booksellers: Purchase for readers who want epic African-American historical stories. This is a long book, but unlike other many similarly long stories, the story rarely drags. Many thanks to Harper and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Slaughter

    THE LOVE SONGS OF W.E.B. DU BOIS is a masterpiece and will be revered as such in the Western literary canon. This novel will forever stand alongside her foremothers like Ms. Toni and Ms. Zora. What I need everyone to understand is how important this book is as an honest, yet loving, examination of American history told through the story of a Black American family from the fictional town Chickasetta, Georgia. Honoree leaves no stone untouched as the narrative explores all the themes and experienc THE LOVE SONGS OF W.E.B. DU BOIS is a masterpiece and will be revered as such in the Western literary canon. This novel will forever stand alongside her foremothers like Ms. Toni and Ms. Zora. What I need everyone to understand is how important this book is as an honest, yet loving, examination of American history told through the story of a Black American family from the fictional town Chickasetta, Georgia. Honoree leaves no stone untouched as the narrative explores all the themes and experiences that contribute to our shared humanity. Phrases like "magisterial epic", "ambitious saga", and "magnum opus" have been used as descriptors for this multigenerational tale and they are accurate. At 816 pages, this novel is not meant to be read quickly. You must savor it. Don't feel daunted by the length. The story is so engaging and so gorgeously written that readers will not be intimidated. Take your time and really sink into the pages. I've read and loved all her poetry collections but, for me, this is her most lyrical work to date. It is evident that Ms. Jeffers put her entire heart and soul into this book. It is only right that readers commit to an equally intentional process of absorbing her words. It took me three months to finish the book because I chose to read one section per week, on Sundays, like it was church. And the benefit of that was a truly divine experience...one that I want everyone to have. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you will be changed as a reader and as a human by the time you reach the last page.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jorden Jones

    (Very slight spoilers) Professor Drogon and I just finished The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois in record time. It’s an 800+ page sweeping tale of an African American family. The story is primarily told from the perspective of Ailey Pearl Garfield. She recounts her story from the age of 4 into her 30s. We also gain the perspective of a myriad of historical figures. Of these historical figures, one story stands out STRONGLY in terms of interest and captivation. Ailey’s story is the focal point and wh (Very slight spoilers) Professor Drogon and I just finished The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois in record time. It’s an 800+ page sweeping tale of an African American family. The story is primarily told from the perspective of Ailey Pearl Garfield. She recounts her story from the age of 4 into her 30s. We also gain the perspective of a myriad of historical figures. Of these historical figures, one story stands out STRONGLY in terms of interest and captivation. Ailey’s story is the focal point and where the beauty of Jeffers’ writing largely rests. I must say I was eager to read and finish this book, I love an epic, and became invested in several of the characters. I was not disappointed in Ailey’s storyline and her overall evolution as a character. I felt attached to her development, and craved to read more. Those were the highlights…. My primary issue with this novel besides a smattering of flat characters and dull overtures, was the unresolved and emphatic use of sexual violence and abuse against black women and children. This novel is touted as a feminist novel, but I would consider it anything but. While it passes the Bechdel test, just barely so. There are a handful of conversations between women that do not center around a man. Conversations notwithstanding, there are extremely graphic depictions of sexual assault against women and children. Inevitably this triggers their subsequent responses and their relationships with others. There is only one identifiable character who navigates this trauma in a healthy and productive way. Further, how did the characters protect other women? How did the characters create a productive space for themselves genuinely? For some, they just moved on with absolutely zero resolution. We should not ignore or deny the painful knowledge of the constant sexual trauma and violations against enslaved black women, and black girls presently. My question is; does the “Great African American Novel,” HAVE to be centered around our collective trauma and pain. We can be so much more than our trauma. Our stories are more than degradation, suffering, and violence. In no way, do I believe that Jeffers’ told a cliched story. I do, however believe that there needs to be more space for black authors to tell a different powerful story. Black women specifically have a greater story to tell than one of overcoming abuse or addiction at the hands of men, systemic racism, or generational trauma. This story gets a lesser rating for me because it could have been so much more. There could have been true joy here. We can absolutely tell both stories, because that is the reality of black life. We take our history and turn it into something more. We don’t have to settle in the grief and the trauma of it all. We can be joyous and victorious, and I wish someone would tell that story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book is a hard one for me to star. For those who love sweeping family sagas, and especially those who know little intersectional black history, this is an enthralling read. If it were shorter, and it could stand to be shorter, I would assign it for my American History courses. It is compelling, and you care deeply about the characters very quickly. The author's research and obvious personal experience make this as sound as a nonfiction work in many ways. There are layers and layers and laye This book is a hard one for me to star. For those who love sweeping family sagas, and especially those who know little intersectional black history, this is an enthralling read. If it were shorter, and it could stand to be shorter, I would assign it for my American History courses. It is compelling, and you care deeply about the characters very quickly. The author's research and obvious personal experience make this as sound as a nonfiction work in many ways. There are layers and layers and layers in each generation. Some include: Afro-indigenous history, colorism, intersectional feminism, historian's trauma, drug abuse, sexual abuse, college hazing, and so much more. This is where I struggled. I am a historian. I teach intersectional history to the best of my ability. So, I did not learn new material here. Instead, the book was trauma after trauma after trauma after trauma. I had anxiety. stress. nightmares. Even Ailey, our main modern protagonist, triggered more trauma for me. We're of an age, and I made many of the same mistakes and saw many of the same tragedies around me as she did. I continue to have more in graduate school. I recognize many of the issues Ailey faced and how they also apply in their own form to other groups outside of academia's old boys network. I appreciate deeply Ms. Jeffers's addressing the issue of historian's trauma - the fact that uncovering trauma requires re-experiencing that trauma, and that has an impact on the people who do this work. It was just all. So. Much. But the payoff just was not there for me. I mourned all the lost knowledge, even of the traumas, which changed the story for the characters themselves. That would obviously not return. But the trauma itself remained, despite the forgetting of the details. How do you deal with what has been forgotten? All of these things lining up with someone who deeply delves into this history is a very unique circumstance, and shouldn't deter anyone from reading the book. I highly recommend it. Thank you to Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Harper, and NetGalley for an advance ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.

  23. 4 out of 5

    KN

    i understand what the novel attempted to create and execute, but it would have really benefitted from a skilled editor. it's approximately 300 pages too long (in its current form) and some of the characters receive too much real estate and others are woefully neglected. it's clear that the author researched the history but at moments it feels heavy handed and didactic. a central theme in each generation was the physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse that many of the characters endured. i wo i understand what the novel attempted to create and execute, but it would have really benefitted from a skilled editor. it's approximately 300 pages too long (in its current form) and some of the characters receive too much real estate and others are woefully neglected. it's clear that the author researched the history but at moments it feels heavy handed and didactic. a central theme in each generation was the physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse that many of the characters endured. i would have loved for at least ONE character to confront this and minimally be on the path for healing. the decision to simply sublimate this history makes sense, but it did not reflect the choices that each generation had at its disposal as the novel wended toward the 21st century. the best takeaway for me was that it engendered a return to william edward burghardt du bois. i plan to circle back to his work. i appreciated the citations at the end.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Candice (Blackbiracialandbookish) Hale

    Honorée Fanonne Jeffers speaks briefly in her reader’s note that she isn’t a gardner, but says “But in my own way, I do tend to the land of my people,” stating this is how she came to write her debut fiction novel 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗟𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗦𝗼𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗪.𝗘.𝗕. 𝗗𝘂𝗕𝗼𝗶𝘀. Jeffers tends to the land of her people by writing “the Great American Novel” that sings to you. Jeffers’ novel bellows the hymns of America’s soul to us through epic journey of Ailey Pearl Garfield. In Ailey’s search for identity, she uncovers, in this Honorée Fanonne Jeffers speaks briefly in her reader’s note that she isn’t a gardner, but says “But in my own way, I do tend to the land of my people,” stating this is how she came to write her debut fiction novel 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗟𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗦𝗼𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗪.𝗘.𝗕. 𝗗𝘂𝗕𝗼𝗶𝘀. Jeffers tends to the land of her people by writing “the Great American Novel” that sings to you. Jeffers’ novel bellows the hymns of America’s soul to us through epic journey of Ailey Pearl Garfield. In Ailey’s search for identity, she uncovers, in this intergenerational tale, her family’s heritage, past, and secrets that span from the slave trade to the present day: “But it's important to know what the truth is, even if you only say it to yourself.” While Jeffers still claims she is not a gardner, I feel that she tends to the shame, the degradation, and the pain that circumvents the life of the southern, Black girl/woman, making her feel seen, loved, and nurtured on. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗟𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗦𝗼𝗻𝗴𝘀 pulls you in for a tight squeeze, hugs you with the warmest embrace, and declares sweet southern colloquials your way! Jeffers’ love for Black women in this novel is unmatched. Several times we are reminded: “The Negro woman is the best our race has to offer. My children, we must always cherish and love this woman. We must never leave her behind.” In this regard, Jeffers knows that to garden means to nurture something to life. And “to find this kind of love, you have to enter deep country.” We can all become the Ailey Pearl Garfields of our families—we can tend to our own histories and uncover the beauty of who and what we are. Through its portal of home and legacy, 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗟𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗦𝗼𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗪.𝗘.𝗕. 𝗗𝘂𝗕𝗼𝗶𝘀 shows readers how our stories combine and connect through our lived and shared histories on this land together as Indigenous, Black, and white. I believe Jeffers’ novel is a mighty harvest that bears a great bounty for a multitude of readers. As Jeffers begins her epic novel: “We are the earth, the land.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    VL

    This is a book that will stay with you for a long time. It's an epic family story told in the most fascinating way. This is a book that will stay with you for a long time. It's an epic family story told in the most fascinating way.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa V

    This book really brought my joy of reading back. I could not put this book down !!!!! I called out of work one night because I did not want to stop reading this book. It was well worth it , all 700 plus pages!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Allen

    I absolutely LOVED this book! Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read this novel! I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to read Honorée Jeffers’ first literary novel. I have found over the years that poets oftentimes make the absolute best novels, and she is definitely a testament to that! This was a very long book, however, it was enjoyable and I was sad that it wasn’t longer. The Love Songs of WEB DuBois is not only a story about a young woman’s I absolutely LOVED this book! Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read this novel! I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to read Honorée Jeffers’ first literary novel. I have found over the years that poets oftentimes make the absolute best novels, and she is definitely a testament to that! This was a very long book, however, it was enjoyable and I was sad that it wasn’t longer. The Love Songs of WEB DuBois is not only a story about a young woman’s discovery of her family history but it is also a coming of age story. Though there is one main character that ties everyone together, Ailey Pearl Garfield, there are other supporting characters that have voices that are just as integral and important to the novel. Ailey’s parents- Maybelline and Geoff, her 2 sisters, Lydia and Coco, her great uncle Root, her grandmothers, and a host of other characters help to tell the story without being too many voices. As a huge fan of Black historical fiction, I found myself completely captivated by the stories of Ailey’s ancestors that tied in a lot of historical facts that I never knew about. Adding later: Throughout the book there is a woman, the “long haired lady” that comes to Ailey in her dreams. We later find that she is one of Ailey’s ancestors. With a touch of the spiritual/super natural, I think the author was implying that Ailey and her mother, and most likely her sister, Lydia, were a bit what I would call clairvoyant because they had dreams and visions that later manifest in their or someone else’s lives. There was one part in the book when both the long haired lady and Lydia come to Ailey together in a dream/vision. They save her life in the spirit and physical world. This part of the story, amongst others, absolutely brought me down. The book covers a wide range of topics such as slavery, rape, drug use, and suicide. The story travels backward and forward telling the story of the past while tying it into the present. There were moments when I would go back to re read something from previous chapters just to make sure I was “picking up” what Jeffers was “putting down” making me that much more engaged in the story and invested in the lives and well-being of the characters. While reading this I had a few of misty/teary eyed/ugly cry moments but I was so enraptured that I couldn’t stop myself. After reading this I crave more knowledge about my own ancestral connections and stories about lesser known but still just as important people that paved the way for us all. Though Jeffers is more straight forward with her writing than Toni Morrison, I cannot help but to see the similarities in the use of her language and also the incorporation of spirits or the super natural. I cannot stop talking about this book, and cannot wait til more people read it so that I have other people to gush about it with lol. Even though it is lengthy, this would be an excellent selection for a book club. Update: started re read with audio book companion and I'm so excited bc I love all of the narrators! also adding notes and links for research Update 9/4/21 (some mild spoilers but not to plot lines) Finished the 2nd read/listen and wow! I have so much to study and ponder. I had to write out the Pinchard family tree just to make sure I was not tripping when I made the connection with Lil May and Big Thom😯😯😯😯 There was SO MANY secrets and so much shame I’m this book. I guess that’s how families are in reality, but LORD! I will see I wish that Coco had more time in this story as the only LGBTQA character, however, from the interactions we had with her throughout the novel, I understood her distance from the family. I still ugly cried during Lydia’s story bc she deserved better. We all Know a Lydia whether we know it or not. I just wanted to reach through the pages and tell her that she was enough and that what happened was not her fault. I will admit that I thought the GOTCHA of the story would be Ailey being Lydia’s daughter the first time I read it. The theme of twins through Samuel’s line wasn’t lost on me either. I don’t know if this was a type of symbolism that Honoreé was using but I feel like there was a reason that each generation had twins. Samuel was a bastard. He had a choice and opportunity to be a better person and chose not to be. I hope that he is rotting in hell. Also, it’s not lost on me how they couldn’t escape generational curse of sexual violence/incest. I couldn’t make a connection of the Garfield’s to the Pinchard’s other than Geoff and Belle’s marriage so it’s like the child paying for the sins of their father. This book was DEEP and has left me full, but not sated. Now I hunger for more.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    In this novel, we meet Ailey, a young black girl who grows up with her two siblings, Lydia and Coco. Ailey has to deal with going to a mostly white school, as well as a prestigious college where race is a constant topic. The book goes back and forth between the past and the present as we learn about Ailey's lineage and some of the trials and issues her mother went through as well as her ancestors. This is a powerful, well written and very long book that is memorable and one that is a good read i In this novel, we meet Ailey, a young black girl who grows up with her two siblings, Lydia and Coco. Ailey has to deal with going to a mostly white school, as well as a prestigious college where race is a constant topic. The book goes back and forth between the past and the present as we learn about Ailey's lineage and some of the trials and issues her mother went through as well as her ancestors. This is a powerful, well written and very long book that is memorable and one that is a good read in the times we are living in.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this novel. Historical fiction is not usually my genre of choice, but I was definitely swept away and impressed by the intergenerational narratives and appreciated the focus on the women across generations.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    This novel was a sweeping epic of a family over time interspersed with other historical allegories, scenes, and quotes for a masterful several hundred pages. The author took us on such an emotional rollercoaster with this story. The main character, Ailey, embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking stories and secrets. This story follows the journey of one American family through the centuries of the colonial slave trade to the Civil War to this era. The book points t This novel was a sweeping epic of a family over time interspersed with other historical allegories, scenes, and quotes for a masterful several hundred pages. The author took us on such an emotional rollercoaster with this story. The main character, Ailey, embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking stories and secrets. This story follows the journey of one American family through the centuries of the colonial slave trade to the Civil War to this era. The book points to the question of how did we get to this place? How did we get to this place as a country? How did we get to this place in terms of race relations? The book is infused with memories from the author's childhood and touches on her prolonged period of loss and grief in her life, which explains the deep connection she has with her characters. The author developed the characters and their journeys by including so much emotion and history in each one. One of the quotes I loved was, "I know that's the way I felt about my mother, Ailey. She died and left me when I was just a little boy, and for years, I blamed myself. If I could've taken her away from this farm, from my father, from all this racism and oppression, she might not have caught influenza. That frustration will probably be with me until the moment I leave this earth. But once she was gone, it took me years to see that I had to live for the both of us because she loved me so much, as Lydia loved you. Anybody could see that, Ailey. She was crazy about you. She probably loved you more than even I do, and I love you very, very much. That's why you have to carry on, Ailey. Wherever Lydia is, she's asking that of you. She wants that for you." To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/hon...

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...