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Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

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They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of the Jim Crow South. These third-generation daughters of the Great Migration come of age in the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It has offered them a promise that they will have more opportunities, rights, and freedoms than any generation of Black Americans in history. But the girls have much more immediate concerns: hiding under the dining room table and eavesdropping on grown folks’ business; collecting secret treasures; and daydreaming about their futures. And then fate intervenes, sending them careening in wildly different directions. There’s heartbreak, loss, displacement, and even murder. Three Girls from Bronzeville is a memoir that chronicles Dawn’s attempt to find answers. It’s a celebration of sisterhood, a testimony to the unique struggles of Black women, and a tour-de-force about the complex interplay of race, class, and opportunity, and how those forces shape our lives and our capacity for resilience and redemption.


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They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of the Jim Crow South. These third-generation daughters of the Great Migration come of age in the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It has offered them a promise that they will have more opportunities, rights, and freedoms than any generation of Black Americans in history. But the girls have much more immediate concerns: hiding under the dining room table and eavesdropping on grown folks’ business; collecting secret treasures; and daydreaming about their futures. And then fate intervenes, sending them careening in wildly different directions. There’s heartbreak, loss, displacement, and even murder. Three Girls from Bronzeville is a memoir that chronicles Dawn’s attempt to find answers. It’s a celebration of sisterhood, a testimony to the unique struggles of Black women, and a tour-de-force about the complex interplay of race, class, and opportunity, and how those forces shape our lives and our capacity for resilience and redemption.

30 review for Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    A very interesting book that tells the journey of three Black women in the Bronzeville neighbor of Chicago. It did remind me alot of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League but where those books focused on Black men this is one of a few books that do the same for Black women. Turner's writing is very good and it helps that she is journalist, very clear and readable. There was one point where A very interesting book that tells the journey of three Black women in the Bronzeville neighbor of Chicago. It did remind me alot of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League but where those books focused on Black men this is one of a few books that do the same for Black women. Turner's writing is very good and it helps that she is journalist, very clear and readable. There was one point where I wondered how this book would have read if Debra had written it. She seemed to have the most interesting story. It may have been even better if Dawn and Debra had written this book together. Thanks to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster, and Dawn Turner, for a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    I got this as a goodreads giveaway. Thank you Simon and Schuster. This book is a good continuation of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. I felt like Ms. Turner was carrying the story on with her families history. It is also a story of how three very close people’s lives can take different turns. Mostly, I enjoyed reading about a part of Chicago that I only saw from afar on the EL or driving near on one of the city’s highways. I got this as a goodreads giveaway. Thank you Simon and Schuster. This book is a good continuation of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. I felt like Ms. Turner was carrying the story on with her families history. It is also a story of how three very close people’s lives can take different turns. Mostly, I enjoyed reading about a part of Chicago that I only saw from afar on the EL or driving near on one of the city’s highways.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Traci Thomas

    I was disappointed by this one. It was slow going (didn’t get interested until page 170) and lacked a clear point of view. I felt the author really played into respectability politics as well as the myth of boot straps rehabilitation. Certainly had poignant moments but the structure and voice were a miss for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    There but for the Grace of God go I. This book exemplifies that sentence. This memoir is written like a novel, a testament to Dawn Turner’s talent as a novelist. A very entrancing story of three girls from Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois. Two sisters and a best friend. They all started out in similar near middle class circumstances, obviously Dawn and her sister Kim sharing the same upbringing separated by a mere three years. Debra becomes Dawn’s friend in the third grade and they began a life lo There but for the Grace of God go I. This book exemplifies that sentence. This memoir is written like a novel, a testament to Dawn Turner’s talent as a novelist. A very entrancing story of three girls from Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois. Two sisters and a best friend. They all started out in similar near middle class circumstances, obviously Dawn and her sister Kim sharing the same upbringing separated by a mere three years. Debra becomes Dawn’s friend in the third grade and they began a life long friendship. How do people begin in the same place but end up entirely in different lots. Is it luck? Wrong choices? Are some people born bad or destined for greatness? The reader will contemplate these possibilities as you follow Dawn along her journey from childhood to professionally accomplished adult. Why hadn’t Kim and Debra followed along that path. What derailed them? I can’t say much more without giving you the story and I’d much rather you get this tale from Dawn Turner than me. I can say this is a fast read, and moves like a novel with speed and snappy prose. You will laugh, maybe cry, but always you will be rejoicing in the story, and feel gratitude for Dawn having shared it. I found this book to be appealing and revealing, and although there is some sadness to contend with, it was an uplifting journey. I urge you to add this to your “Read Now” shelf. Thanks to Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for an advanced DRC. Book drops September 7, 2021

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susie | Novel Visits

    Nonfiction has not been my thing this year and that makes me a little sad. Maybe because there has been a lot going on in my life, I’m feeling like I need to escape and nonfiction can’t always do that for me. So, when I say I found a memoir that I thoroughly enjoyed, 𝐓𝐇𝐑𝐄𝐄 𝐆𝐈𝐑𝐋𝐒 𝐅𝐑𝐎𝐌 𝐁𝐑𝐎𝐍𝐙𝐄𝐕𝐈𝐋𝐋𝐄 by Dawn Turner, I hope you’ll take note! ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Journalist and novelist Dawn Turner writes about growing up in the 70’s in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Mainly working class with some subsidized housi Nonfiction has not been my thing this year and that makes me a little sad. Maybe because there has been a lot going on in my life, I’m feeling like I need to escape and nonfiction can’t always do that for me. So, when I say I found a memoir that I thoroughly enjoyed, 𝐓𝐇𝐑𝐄𝐄 𝐆𝐈𝐑𝐋𝐒 𝐅𝐑𝐎𝐌 𝐁𝐑𝐎𝐍𝐙𝐄𝐕𝐈𝐋𝐋𝐄 by Dawn Turner, I hope you’ll take note! ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Journalist and novelist Dawn Turner writes about growing up in the 70’s in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Mainly working class with some subsidized housing, Bronzeville was a largely Black area of the city, where the recent civil rights movement brought hope for greater opportunities. Dawn, her sister Kim and her best friend Debra led lives much like any other little girls growing up in a big city. They shared hopes, dreams and lots of laughs. But as adolescence hit and Debra’s family moved, the three had less and less in common and their lives began to move in wildly different directions.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ The memoir chronicles the challenges each girl/woman faced as she grew into adulthood. Turner held a laser focus on what she wanted and how to achieve it, but Kim and Debra struggled to find their dreams and overcome the many obstacles in their ways. I found 𝘛𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘎𝘪𝘳𝘭𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘉𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘻𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦 to be compelling, honest, sad, and yet ultimately uplifting. Add this one to your nonfiction TBR. I’m glad I did!⁣ Thanks to Simon & Schuster for both an e-galley and finished copy of this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ang

    Do I...like memoirs now? In all seriousness, this was really wonderful. Turner knows how to write beautiful sentences, and the introspection in her writing really spoke to me. I also really LOVED the way she wrote about the older lady relatives in her life--her mom, her aunt, and her granny. The love and care she feels for them just...shines through. Of course, the central two women in this life, besides her, are also spoken of beautifully, reverently. A wonderful read. Thanks to the publisher and Do I...like memoirs now? In all seriousness, this was really wonderful. Turner knows how to write beautiful sentences, and the introspection in her writing really spoke to me. I also really LOVED the way she wrote about the older lady relatives in her life--her mom, her aunt, and her granny. The love and care she feels for them just...shines through. Of course, the central two women in this life, besides her, are also spoken of beautifully, reverently. A wonderful read. Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    Add Three Girls from Bronzeville by journalist Dawn Turner (formerly Dawn Turner Trice) to the list of important memoirs by Black American writers. Turner tells about three girls growing up in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, home to many prominent Black figures but subject to changing conditions over the decades. Turner, her younger sister Kim, and her best friend Debra come from almost identical circumstances, but the lives of each young woman turn out drastically different from on Add Three Girls from Bronzeville by journalist Dawn Turner (formerly Dawn Turner Trice) to the list of important memoirs by Black American writers. Turner tells about three girls growing up in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, home to many prominent Black figures but subject to changing conditions over the decades. Turner, her younger sister Kim, and her best friend Debra come from almost identical circumstances, but the lives of each young woman turn out drastically different from one another, leading readers to reflect on what internal factors influence us when our external surroundings only partially explain our actions and decisions. The subtitle A Uniquely American Story of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood provides some of the context shaping the people, places, and events shared by the girls and their families. Turner’s incisive story-telling, carefully-revealed details, and controlled emotions make Three Girls from Bronzeville a memorable and illuminating reading experience.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    How I read this: Free ebook copy received through Edelweiss Three Girls from Bronzeville is a serious memoir about three very different lives that came out of similar circumstances. I don't know why, but I started reading it thinking it was fiction - I guess I just forgot the blurb (and what's written on the cover, apparently! *facepalm*) But I quickly realized that this can't be fiction - I don't know, there's just something about it. When we write fiction about hardship, we write it differently How I read this: Free ebook copy received through Edelweiss Three Girls from Bronzeville is a serious memoir about three very different lives that came out of similar circumstances. I don't know why, but I started reading it thinking it was fiction - I guess I just forgot the blurb (and what's written on the cover, apparently! *facepalm*) But I quickly realized that this can't be fiction - I don't know, there's just something about it. When we write fiction about hardship, we write it differently. Life has its own, sometimes quite unromantic ways of making hardship play out in real lives. Perhaps less dramatically expressed than in fiction, but real life has ways of grinding down 'the characters' like you wouldn't believe. This is what happens in this story as well. That said, it's not all sad things. The story of Dawn (who wrote this book about herself, her sister and her best friend) is an inspiring one. The core of the story is these three girls' lives and how differently they unfolded. The main thing here, is that the girls all came from similar or even the same backgrounds, and yet their lives worked out very differently. The book raises the question of why this happens. Two of the girls had sad stories. The third girl did well, despite what life threw her way. However, even one of the sad stories has a redemption, and the last third of the book is dedicated towards the 'rising of the phoenix'. I thought it was very inspiring how a life can be picked up even out of a very deep ditch. In fact, this was the bit of the book I enjoyed the most, because for the first half, I had trouble getting into it - it was a long setup of just the girls' childhoods and their younger lives, which of course brought them to the later stages and decisions of their lives, but somehow that bit dragged for me a bit. However, when I made it through it, the second part of the book greatly paid off and I felt uplifted by the end message of it all. Three Girls from Bronzeville is definitely a worthy read, especially if the subject of racial inequality and life in poorer areas is a subject that is interesting to you. I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion. Book Blog | Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sandra The Old Woman in a Van

    Dawn Turner's memoir about her life growing up on the South Side of Chicago drew me in from the opening pages. Compared to the author's success, the disparate outcomes of her friend and sister make up the crux of Turner's compelling narrative. Like Dawn, I spent years living in Chicago's South Side, but in Hyde Park, a neighborhood the author describes as gentrified because of its proximity to The University of Chicago. Indeed, I walked past Ms. Turner's high school at least weekly, and I drove Dawn Turner's memoir about her life growing up on the South Side of Chicago drew me in from the opening pages. Compared to the author's success, the disparate outcomes of her friend and sister make up the crux of Turner's compelling narrative. Like Dawn, I spent years living in Chicago's South Side, but in Hyde Park, a neighborhood the author describes as gentrified because of its proximity to The University of Chicago. Indeed, I walked past Ms. Turner's high school at least weekly, and I drove past her neighborhood often. But, because it's Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the country, I didn't know Bronzeville at all. I appreciate the author introducing me to the area and sharing her experiences. She taught me much, something I look for from memoirs. The story explores an age-old question of why some people are resilient, overcome obstacles, and reach security and success. In contrast, others stumble and end up in chaotic, self-destructive circumstances. Ms. Turner touches on why but mostly leaves the question unanswered - because there is no answer. "But for the grace of God go I..." For this reader, the main message I got from Three Girls From Bronzeville is that there is no magic answer to what makes some kids successful and others not. It's complicated. And by taking us methodically through the complexity, Turner pulls out compassion from the reader. Her narrative is a reminder that people are more than the worst thing they ever did. Turner writes as the journalist she is. Her language is pragmatic, organized, easy to read, and often feels distant from the subject matter - not in a bad way, but like she is an objective observer of her life. Non-the-less, there is still a lot of emotional impact to her story. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy memoirs and, also, to anyone interested in how the mix of temperament, environment and societal conditions influence who we become. I received a free NetGalley version of this book in return for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    Such a beautifully written memoir about Dawn Turner and her years growing up, her hopes and dreams, seeing the fruition of some but the absolute inability to reach others. She, her little sister Kim, and a friend Dawn made in the third grade and whose friendship lasts the test of time, all go through their personal struggles as we all do in life. There is no denying there is heartbreak in Dawn's story of the three of them...in my case I cried twice. But there is also the inspiration that is brou Such a beautifully written memoir about Dawn Turner and her years growing up, her hopes and dreams, seeing the fruition of some but the absolute inability to reach others. She, her little sister Kim, and a friend Dawn made in the third grade and whose friendship lasts the test of time, all go through their personal struggles as we all do in life. There is no denying there is heartbreak in Dawn's story of the three of them...in my case I cried twice. But there is also the inspiration that is brought to the page via their experiences when life hands them a bad hand of cards. I have always loved Black history, African-American literature, and Black studies among other things such as music. I was so thrilled to see many Black people in history, literature, and music in this book. Names I'll never forget: Louis Armstrong, Barack Obama, Richard Wright and his book (one of my all time favorites) Native Son, Langston Hughes, and many others. I also enjoyed reading about a time when I was a young girl (born in 1950) and some of aspects of the book that resonated with me, such as simple things like cigarette candy, only one TV in a home, playing games that were outdoors and not computer games and so on. But Dawn's memoir brings family, love, friendship, heartbreak, laughter, and forgiveness to life in the pages of Three Girls from Bronzeville and I loved it. I would like to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    I enjoyed this memoir but I didn't love it. The authorial judgement around sex work and what sorts of people do it was pretty strident, and I was put off by that. I enjoyed this memoir but I didn't love it. The authorial judgement around sex work and what sorts of people do it was pretty strident, and I was put off by that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    ***Goodreads Win*** As much as I appreciated the clear, straight-forward story telling, unfortunately, this book didn't compel me. Maybe I've been reading too many memoirs recently but this one did not have that certain something that made me look forward to reading it every night. Dawn Turner is a good author but not as a "character" in the book. Through her eyes I felt like someone looking into a window of the lives of her sister, best friend and family. But I wanted to be taken into that life. ***Goodreads Win*** As much as I appreciated the clear, straight-forward story telling, unfortunately, this book didn't compel me. Maybe I've been reading too many memoirs recently but this one did not have that certain something that made me look forward to reading it every night. Dawn Turner is a good author but not as a "character" in the book. Through her eyes I felt like someone looking into a window of the lives of her sister, best friend and family. But I wanted to be taken into that life. But I never felt let in; I felt at a remove. Maybe that was the point since Dawn seemed to operate on a level above those in her life. I'd bet if you gave me a book written by Debra, I would have been more engrossed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tashay

    Black Chicago Summer Reading Book #6 The first half of the book felt cold and distant. The author tells the story of how she, her younger sister, and childhood best friend all took different paths in life. The best friend and sister wind up on the wrong paths but the author never “really” strays, or when she does make mistakes, they don’t get much air time. I was more drawn to the sister and best friend’s lives than that of the author. A much stronger ending than beginning.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    Wow--4.5 stars. This is a stunning work of narrative nonfiction written by journalist Dawn Turner. Turner explores her childhood along with those of her younger sister, Kim, and best friend, Debra. They all grow up in Bronzeville, a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, but they take very different paths in life. I stayed up until 1am the night I started reading it. This is a compelling read. Highly recommended.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This is a story of three girls from Bronzeville and how they grew up together but took totally different paths in life. The author is the one who most readers would call the success story. The other two are her sister and her best friend. They all lived in the same building as young children. It's a good story in terms of being a slice of life of that location and generation and I liked the ending, but most of the time I was unsure of what role the author was trying to take in this story. Readers This is a story of three girls from Bronzeville and how they grew up together but took totally different paths in life. The author is the one who most readers would call the success story. The other two are her sister and her best friend. They all lived in the same building as young children. It's a good story in terms of being a slice of life of that location and generation and I liked the ending, but most of the time I was unsure of what role the author was trying to take in this story. Readers interested in Bronzeville will enjoy getting to know it from the author's point of view. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Yes, this memoir was fascinating. It addressed the remarkable life paths of three young girls who grew up together in the Bronzeville area of Chicago. How could destiny hold such a different destination for each girl? I wondered if the differences in their personalities or the slight variations in their upbringing might have caused them to take separate paths. It could have been the circumstances that each girl faced at school, or maybe even luck was involved. In the end, I decided it was common Yes, this memoir was fascinating. It addressed the remarkable life paths of three young girls who grew up together in the Bronzeville area of Chicago. How could destiny hold such a different destination for each girl? I wondered if the differences in their personalities or the slight variations in their upbringing might have caused them to take separate paths. It could have been the circumstances that each girl faced at school, or maybe even luck was involved. In the end, I decided it was common sense and maturity that allowed the author, Dawn Turner, to become a successful writer. I am thankful that she wisely opted to write her outstanding memoir. I’m sure her story is very personal to her, but it is also a sociological study worth reading. Thanks to the author, Net Galley, and the publishing company of Simon and Schuster for supplying this wonderful book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    This is a beautiful, moving memoir. It covers friendship, the love of family and how hard growing up can be. I loved how easy it was to read, the beginning is engaging and interesting. As the story got harder to read, and sad at times, I was completely absorbed and was rooting for and brokenhearted for the characters in turn. I'm so glad I read this one. A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book. This is a beautiful, moving memoir. It covers friendship, the love of family and how hard growing up can be. I loved how easy it was to read, the beginning is engaging and interesting. As the story got harder to read, and sad at times, I was completely absorbed and was rooting for and brokenhearted for the characters in turn. I'm so glad I read this one. A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Martha Kuder

    Dawn Turner took me on an emotional journey of her life in this fantastic book. I also fell in love with Dawn’s beautiful best friend and pesky adoring little sister. The hilarious antics of little girl fun was totally relatable to when I was little. But the 3 girls started growing up, and life pulled them in different directions for whatever reason. Living fast and hard brought devastating and heartbreaking changes to Dawn’s friend and sister. Addiction changed everything. Their dreams dimmed as Dawn Turner took me on an emotional journey of her life in this fantastic book. I also fell in love with Dawn’s beautiful best friend and pesky adoring little sister. The hilarious antics of little girl fun was totally relatable to when I was little. But the 3 girls started growing up, and life pulled them in different directions for whatever reason. Living fast and hard brought devastating and heartbreaking changes to Dawn’s friend and sister. Addiction changed everything. Their dreams dimmed as drinking and drugs damaged them, bring about poor choices and darken their lives. Even though I cried hard in parts of this book, it also taught me about forgiveness and redemption in a way I’d never thought about before.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    I found this book to be well written and well paced. I felt like I knew the author through her stories. I wish I could have known her sister, Kim, a bit more as well as her friend, Debra. There are parts of the book where I feel like I’m knowing them more. This book highlights how the 3 girls can be raised in the same area and in similar ways yet end up with very different lives. I wish I could understand where Kim and Debra took a turn to be so different than Dawn but I’m not sure that Dawn gas I found this book to be well written and well paced. I felt like I knew the author through her stories. I wish I could have known her sister, Kim, a bit more as well as her friend, Debra. There are parts of the book where I feel like I’m knowing them more. This book highlights how the 3 girls can be raised in the same area and in similar ways yet end up with very different lives. I wish I could understand where Kim and Debra took a turn to be so different than Dawn but I’m not sure that Dawn gas the answer to that either. This is a nice book to think about sisterhood and close friend relationships. 💕

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Lang

    Engaging story of 3 girls growing up in Chicago. Each of them has their personal struggles and accomplishments Ms. Turner allows the reader to feel the emotions fully. She intertwines some housing history and public events to give the reader clarity. I had a hard time putting the book down.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I love memoir, have an interest in Bronzeville and like Dawn Turner’s columns in the Chicago Trib so this was a book for me. I’m not going to say too much because I don’t want to deal with spoilers. Thought this would be a quick read but I had to stop frequently because it was so emotional. If u have any questions ask and I’ll fill you in. I learned Dawn wrote 2 novels so I look forward to reading them. Read away!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Robinson

    Well developed memoir of the authors childhood and adulthood and the different paths followed by herself, her sister and her best friend from the 3rd grade/ I though I could predict the outcomes but was wrong; found myself rooting for each woman through her struggles and successes. Kudos to the author for bringing forward her life so clearly and with such heart. With thanks to the author, publisher and Edelweiss for the Advanced Reader Copy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daina (Dai2DaiReader)

    I would give this book 2.75 stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shayla Scott

    4.5 rating

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danielle H

    This book was so much different than I expected it to be but a tremendously engaging read. I loved Turner’s voice.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** Similar to books like The Other Wes Moore, Dawn Turner explores the different paths and destinies of herself, her younger sister, and childhood best friend, and tries to understand the reasons for why their paths diverges so drastically. She sets the scene in the Bronzeville area of Chicago, and vividly brings it to life. Despite knowing nothing about it or its history in the beginning, by the end I found myself emotionally i ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** Similar to books like The Other Wes Moore, Dawn Turner explores the different paths and destinies of herself, her younger sister, and childhood best friend, and tries to understand the reasons for why their paths diverges so drastically. She sets the scene in the Bronzeville area of Chicago, and vividly brings it to life. Despite knowing nothing about it or its history in the beginning, by the end I found myself emotionally invested in the community. Although the memoir focuses on three people, it is also about the shifting urban landscape and the meaning that holds to those who grew up there. She also manages to include a great deal about her family's history with the Great Migration, as well as zooming in on her personal relationships with various family members. It sounds like a lot, and it is, content-wise, but I never felt it was overwhelming or overly ambitious. Some readers might feel that she inserted herself too far into the narrative, but as a memoir, I think it was appropriate for the book to cover a lot of her personal experiences with grief. This isn't a book that tells you how to try and rescue your loved ones, but rather, sits alongside you as you grapple with those tough questions.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    TL;DR Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner moved me. This memoir about sticking together through the ups and downs of life struck a number of emotional chords. Lives that begin together can diverge in many ways, but with love and patience, they can also converge again. Thank you, Ms. Turner for writing this. Highly Recommended. Disclaimer: The publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions that follow are mine alone. Read more of my rev TL;DR Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner moved me. This memoir about sticking together through the ups and downs of life struck a number of emotional chords. Lives that begin together can diverge in many ways, but with love and patience, they can also converge again. Thank you, Ms. Turner for writing this. Highly Recommended. Disclaimer: The publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions that follow are mine alone. Read more of my reviews at Primmlife.com. Review: Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner As I age, I wonder more about the paths I didn’t take in life. What decisions that I took or didn’t take would have led to being a wholly different person if reversed? If I hadn’t been depressed that I couldn’t be a fighter pilot, would I have joined the Air Force? If I hadn’t taken an interest in martial arts, would I have avoided the eye poke that led to a tear in my retina? If I had signed up for an undergraduate creative writing class, would I have changed majors? These are the types of things I wonder about my life. At essence, I’m wondering about what it would be like to be a different person. I’ll never know, but memoir and autobiography let me get as close as possible to experiencing a wholly different life that exists in reality. George R.R. Martin said that a reader gets to live a thousand lives, and this is true. But, when reading memoir, I get to read about a new reality from the person that experienced it. In fiction, I’m reading an author creating emotions and decisions. In history, I read about the events that led to decisions. In memoir, I read an author ruminating on the decisions, the emotions, and the outcomes that led that person to the point where they wrote the memoir. It’s as close to experiencing a different life than my own as I can get. In Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner, I get as close to experiencing life as a black woman who grew up in Chicago in the aftermath of the civil rights movements as possible. At face value, she and I – a white male from rural Illinois – seem to have little in common. This is why I picked up this book. I wanted to know what her experience was, and Turner excels at putting the reader in her thoughts, emotions, and motivations during the times chronicled in this book. I wanted to experiences the differences, but Turner’s story had a lot of similarities to my own. The strength of a good memoir, like Three Girls from Bronzeville, is that it allows us to find commonplace with those lives different from our own. And, believe me, Three Girls from Bronzeville is a great memoir. It’s moving, enlightening, frustrating, and beautiful. In short, it’s a life. Dawn, her sister Kim, and her best friend, Debra, are the three girls from the title. This memoir follows Dawns life as she interacts, or doesn’t, with Kim and Debra. The beginning of the book opens with Dawn’s childhood on the south side of Chicago. She introduces us to a number of her family members and takes us through the family’s move to Bronzeville. Turner highlights her close relationship to her sister, and as she attends school, she meets and befriend Debra Trice. To her surprise, Debra lives in the apartment above theirs. The three grow closer and closer as a group. They dream big of their futures, but for three black girls on the south side of Chicago, opportunity is harder to come by. Debra moves to Indianapolis, but she and Dawn write letters, talk on the phone, and keep their friendship going. Challenged by a different friend at school, Dawn enter advanced studies. She meets a boyfriend, gets accepted into the University of Illinois, and she finds a passion. Kim, meanwhile, has been skipping school and hanging around some of the rougher types from the neighborhood. Debra tried to join the Air Force but ended up back in Indianapolis. Dawn wonders what happened to those dreams they had as girls and tries to steer her friends back into a path towards their childhood dreams. But she learns that as we grow, our lives diverge from the path we set as children. And what we think is best, what we want for those we love, may not be the life our loved ones want. Three Girls from Bronzeville is a first person memoir from childhood to adult life. While the focus is Dawn Turner’s life, the author sticks to the premise of three girls. So, despite the fact that we only get Ms. Turner’s thoughts and emotions, the book still feels as if it is telling the story of three lives. Turner sets us into her life and builds a narrative of hope and potential that all kids seem to have. Then she takes us through the inevitable process of growing up. The three lives focused on by this book are triumphant, tragic, and tumultuous. And the reader is better for having known these women. Choices and Second Chances At the end of the book, Turner writes that she think this story is about three girls who made different choices, but then she changes her mind and says it’s a story about second chances. I can see that. But most of the book is her trying to understand how three close knit girls could make such drastically different choices. And she acknowledges that if not for her competitiveness and another friend who pushed her, maybe she would have made similar choices. Who knows? I applaud her for this type of introspection because it’s one thing to show that people make decisions that lead them down dark paths. It’s another to wonder if we had made similar decisions, would we have also gone down those dark paths. Turner has put a lot of effort into showing us the human side of Kim and Debra. These two women would be, at best, ignored by the majority of America if not written off as cautionary tales about the use of drugs and alcohol. At worst, they’d be held up by racists as examples of whatever horrible things racists have inside their twisted hearts. But Turner shows us there’s more to the story. She shows us that good people can and do make decisions that lead down dark paths. But she also shows that just because we go down a dark path doesn’t mean we have to stay on that path. What Three Girls from Bronzeville told me is that society likes to define us by decisions we make and to reduce an entire life to its worst moments. That is unfair. Criminals have loved ones and best friends. Addicts have families that love them. So, why do we shorthand their entire lives by referring to them as addicts or criminals? Because it lets us feel superior? Because it lets us rationalize away that person’s humanity? I think because it protects us from seeing that with a few different decisions in our lives, that person could be us. Turner shows us that three girls with so much potential end up in three different spots, but we should still see those three girls. We should still see the love they have for each other and the bonds they’ve maintained. Turner takes us beyond the labels to show us the humans. It’s a wake up call that I need to look for the humanity in everyone. Funerals Dawn Turner can write a funeral scene like no one else I’ve read. I felt a connection with her in her grief and her loss that was so real it took me back to the moments I lost my parents. Reading these passages hurt because they were so real, so detailed, and so exquisitely crafted. This was some of the best writing I’ve read all year. (And if you look at the reviews I’ve done, you’ll know that saying something.) I wished I could have hugged Turner to console her. These moments are a reminder that grief and loss from the death of a loved one never really go away. That pain is there forever, and we learn to live with it. But reading these scenes also made me feel a connections because all humans will go through loss of some sort or another. As terrible as that loss is, it is one thing that connects people no matter what their background or station in life. Reading these scenes are the exact reason that I read memoir. Conclusion Dawn Turner’s Three Girls from Bronzeville is a must read memoir. Turner lets us see into her family and her life; she helps us look beyond labels to see the people for their good and their bad. Three Girls from Bronzeville touched this small town boy’s heart. Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner is available from Simon & Schuster now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    I finished reading Three Girls From Bronzeville at 4 a.m. I am sitting here pondering it. It is a deeply intense and personal memoir centered on Dawn, her younger sister and her friend since childhood, Diane. I have read several reviews that have a similar reaction. There but for the grace of God, go I. I have had the same thought when my mother told me of my childhood friends and what she knew of them, many years later. But the author was able to maintain contact when her friend Diane They wrote I finished reading Three Girls From Bronzeville at 4 a.m. I am sitting here pondering it. It is a deeply intense and personal memoir centered on Dawn, her younger sister and her friend since childhood, Diane. I have read several reviews that have a similar reaction. There but for the grace of God, go I. I have had the same thought when my mother told me of my childhood friends and what she knew of them, many years later. But the author was able to maintain contact when her friend Diane They wrote letters and talked on the phone. When I moved away from the neighborhood, most of my friends had already left before me. But they were at each other's apartment in the same building and Diane's mother encouraged her to play with her. There is a lot of tragedy at times, sadness and times that the three lives separated and came back together again. Dawn made it successfully, she worked towards a great education and career. Troubles at home bubbled up just like in all our lives but with the help of her mother, her favorite aunt and her grandmother, she had a lot of emotional support. Her younger sister was at first a follower and then a mischief-maker, but she needed more than what could have helped her a lot. I wonder, if part of the reason would be the difference in ages in the sisters, but only Kim could have revealed the truth. And Diane, at first, she and Dawn aspired to be nurses, But two girls when they were older had different interests. Diane's story means a lot to me. You can think that your life has become hopeless but with the right people, you can find redemption and forgiveness. I cheered when reading that part of the book. Lastly, I felt very close to Dawn's mother when driver through the old Bronzeville apartment area and the area surrounding the landmarks that she knew. I am in between Dawn and her mother in age, But I have had the experience of locating my grade school that I went from 1st through 6th grade on Google Maps. I was shocked to see that the old brick building that I loved was replaced by what looked to me like a temporary for a building. I searched more and found out that school that I went to had been demolished. Gone was the grand main hallway, the stained glass window of Principal Funk's office. the very tall ceiling where the large Christmas tree stood with hand made ornaments from the children, the three floor auditorium with the flights of stairs the changed directions for every floor. All that is left is memories and I wonder what the other children remembered about that grand little school. I know exactly what Dawn's mother was feeling. You lived many years in that building, but it is gone. I received an Advance Review copy from the publishers as a win from FirsReads. Thank you, Dawn Turner for your memoir and all your memories. I feel honored to be reading it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pj

    This book was self-congratulatory, too comfortable with speaking for Kim and Debra, and afraid to examine how all of them were failed by their families and society. With “sisters” like Dawn, who needs enemies? Readers won’t hear an accurate story about these women unless Debra writes a book of her own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    Not paying any attention to the subtitle before beginning this book, I thought this story was a novel at first, and author Dawn Turner gave her protagonist her own name. How odd! At some point I did realize it was a memoir, but in some ways it does read like a novel. It doesn't move rapidly, however, which was fine with me. I enjoyed the pacing and happily returned to the story again and again to read more. Ms. Turner grew up in Chicago in a middle-class family with her younger sister Kim. Her b Not paying any attention to the subtitle before beginning this book, I thought this story was a novel at first, and author Dawn Turner gave her protagonist her own name. How odd! At some point I did realize it was a memoir, but in some ways it does read like a novel. It doesn't move rapidly, however, which was fine with me. I enjoyed the pacing and happily returned to the story again and again to read more. Ms. Turner grew up in Chicago in a middle-class family with her younger sister Kim. Her best friend Debra lived in the same building when they were young. Like all children, the girls had hopes and dreams of the future and the careers they would have as adults. Like real life, things did not turn out as planned for all three girls. The author explores that, as well as describes her childhood, college and adult years. Women from various generations play major roles in her life, more so than men. While it's not anti-men by any means, the reality was women never left, except by death. Dawn Turner was a success story, but there is no preaching or pretentiousness when telling the stories of others who weren't. A common cause of destruction, however, appeared to be drug usage; both the destruction of individuals and the destruction of neighborhoods. Yet there were two things drugs couldn't destroy . . . good memories and love. (Note: I received a free e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster.)

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