Cover Image: Three Girls from Bronzeville

Three Girls from Bronzeville

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Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn Turner is a searing and stunning memoir about choices and chances. The book begins with the family and friendship of three Black girls, Dawn, her little sister Kim and friend Debra as they grow up in 1970’s Bronzeville, a historic neighbourhood on Chicago’s South Side. They are the third generation children of the Great Migration living on the fragile promise of more freedom and opportunity. The book is testimony to each girls life, ambitions, dreams and how they meet the forces of fate sending them in different directions. The book is powerful in its startling prose and spirit of observation highlighting the impact of race, class, culture and opportunity. Above all it is a story of love born, formed, reshaped and withheld in the toughest of circumstances and conditions. Beautiful, resonant, tragic and hopeful I recommend this book for fans of memoirs that explore social, historical, and cultural aspects. 4.5 Stars ⭐️
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In this beautifully-written memoir, Turner explores how the three women were shaped by their choices and how Bronzeville shaped them. It was clear how much she loved Kim and Debra and how she believed in them. But she also was very honest and didn’t flinch from the hard things in their lives. Overall, it was an enlightening look at the racism and classism that Black women struggle with. Statistics can numb but stories likes Turner’s can open hearts.
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A memoir with a smattering of reported journalism about Dawn Turner, her sister Kim , and her best friend Debra. The book follows their childhood together and the ways their lives went in different directions.
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This book disappointed me. The characters and events were compelling but the book itself was underwhelming. At first I couldn’t figure out why I was uncomfortable with the book, but I eventually realized it was rooted in a kind of individualism that was really toxic. Turner ends up in college and as a successful journalist. Kim and Debra do not have that luck. Throughout the book Dawn chastises the other women for their choices and ignores the structural apparatuses that have led the women in one direction or another. The book came off very “if I could do it, why can’t you?”
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I don’t want to spoil the book too much but I’ll say this, I found Turner to be playing into outdated talking points of bootstraps and reform. I wish she’d reported more about Chicago and the laws and politics that led to the crack epidemic and over aggressive policing etc. What living through that was like for young Black women. The book instead is lacking in context so it reads very victim blaming and pro status quo subjugation of Black folks.
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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.
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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.
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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! ⁣⁣
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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.⁣⁣
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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.
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I was excited to read this book!  The beginning started off great and I was enjoying the relationship between Dawn, Kim and Debra.  But, when I got to the second part of the book and I wasn't able to connect with the shift in the dynamics between the three girls.
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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
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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.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Publishing for gifting me with a n ARC of Three Girls from Bronzeville. In exchange I offer my unbiased review. 

As someone who reads between 50-60 memoirs a year, I can honestly say this one by Dawn Turner is amongst the best. Dawn shares her coming of age story  beginning in the late 1970’s on the South Side of Chicago, Raised by  her mom, aunt and grandmother Dawn & her younger sister Kim are taught that the Church & a good education will bring you safety and success. Dawn takes this advice to heart but her younger sister Kim, has a different set of rules for herself. Dawn & Kim share their childhood dreams and escapades with Debra,  their fearless and beautiful neighbor. More like a third sister, Debra, Dawn & Kim are inseparable until life puts them on very different roads. 
This memoir is written with honesty and insight. It’s a powerful testament to sisterhood, loyalty, friendship, love, family and resilience. A memorable read.
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Reading 2021
Book 107: Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner

Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my feedback. Saw this book recommend in Real Simple Magazine. 

3 Girls is a memoir of growing up in the Bronzeville section of Chicago in the 70s and 80s. The girls are the author, her younger sister Kim, and her best friend Debra. Life was not easy but was fun in their early years. As the girls got older, they each took separate paths through life. The paths were all riddled with difficulties and for each woman their own struggles. 

Bronzeville is a difficult book to “review”. This is someone’s story and journey through life told as they remember it. I was engaged in the story of Dawn, Kim, and Debra throughout. The author pulls no punches and tells it like it is without watering down anything. The writing was good, and the flow of the book was engaging. The relationships throughout are really what was at the heart of this memoir. I recommend reading this one, rating 4 stars. If you are a book crier, bring the tissues.
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I really enjoyed Turner’s memoir. It’s a story of her life, but also her sister’s and best friend’s. Three girls who were reared in the same community, but who had three vastly different lives. It’s also a story about another trio of women: the author’s mother, aunt, and grandmother. I enjoyed reading about their lives as well. Strength ran in Turner’s family as many situations  required much of it. The most powerful message the book has is the support of family and sister bonds, blood or not.
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SHELF AWARENESS PRO, AUG 13: Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner (Simon & Schuster, $26.99 hardcover, 336p., 9781982107703, September 7, 2021)

Journalist and novelist Dawn Turner (Only Twice I've Wished for Heaven; An Eighth of August) has spent her career writing about the intersections of politics, race and class in Chicago and across the United States, including coverage of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. In Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood, those same connections become the lens through which Turner explores her own childhood memories, as well as those of her sister and childhood best friend, whose lives started so similarly and diverged in remarkable and heartbreaking ways over the decades.

"To understand Debra, Kim and me--to understand what will happen to us," writes Turner in the introduction, "you have to know the place that has begun to shape us." That place is Bronzeville, a historic Chicago community known as the "cradle of the city's Great Migration, the epicenter of Black business and culture." This three-square-mile community is the setting of Turner's story--and life--as the neighborhood is increasingly affected by systemic disinvestment, racially motivated policing and the opioid epidemic. Against that backdrop, Turner recalls growing up with her younger sister, Kim, and best friend, Debra, doing the things kids do: sneaking notes in classes, making up adventures in the neighborhood, trying to do right by their parents. Somewhere along the way, though, their three paths diverged: Turner, heading to college and marriage and a successful career; Kim, struggling with alcoholism and dead of a heart attack at far too young an age; and Debra, caught in the throes of addiction and sent to jail for murder.

This divergence forms the central tension of Three Girls from Bronzeville, as Turner attempts to understand how three young Black girls with such similar childhoods could have such dramatically different fates. Turner's exploration ties back again to Bronzeville's past and present, as she comes to the realization that Kim and Debra's paths were shaped as much by circumstance and opportunity--or lack thereof--as by their own individual decisions. "Debra and Kim didn't have to dream my dreams," she writes. "I just wanted them to have--and make--better choices."

Turner's vivid recollections of her girlhood in Bronzeville ground Three Girls from Bronzeville in the experiences of those in the Chicago neighborhood, as Turner expertly combines memoir and social history in her analysis of the many systems that made Bronzeville into the place it is today--and how those same oppressive systems shape the lives of even society's youngest neighbors. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Shelf Talker: A seasoned journalist turns an incisive lens on her own past to understand how race, politics and class shaped the lives of three young Black girls.
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Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner

The title of Dawn Turner’s exquisite Three Girls from Bronzeville sets the stage for the reader. We immediately know that we’ll meet three girls and most of us from Chicago can picture those girls in Bronzeville, a section of the city south of downtown where the Black migration established a distinct community. For those who don’t know about Bronzeville, Turner shares that it was the home of Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, cardiac surgeon Daniel Hale Williams, Louie Armstrong, and Ida B. Wells. 

Turner embeds the reader into 1970s Bronzeville when she and the other two girls were young—showing the reader a place that redlining and disinvestment kept economically challenged despite its desirable location. She also shows us the region in earlier times when her mother, aunt, and grandmother were also three girls from Bronzeville. This is both a chronicle of the community and a compelling character study of three unique girls growing up in it. What sets this book apart from other memoirs set in disenfranchised places is Turner’s ability to place the reader in her life and that of the other two girls. Turner’s detailed observations coupled with her open-hearted sharing of her own story make the book both intimate and genuine. 

The opening lines establish the connection with the author: 
“I often think about my sister and my best friend. Not every minute. Not even every day. I mostly think about them when I am experiencing something I would have wanted to share. Some moment that would allow us to tug on a line, thin as a filament, that begins “Remember when . . .” and draws a seemingly ever-present past nearer.” 

When the book begins, we see Dawn Turner’s younger sister Kim following nine-year-old Dawn and her new best friend Debra. Both their families have recently moved into a privately owned apartment complex that’s just a chain-link fence away from the Ida B. Wells Homes, a deteriorating public housing project. The girls are inseparable and we get to know them as they go to school and play together every day afterward. That we know these little girls so well, makes watching the different paths they follow real to us. When Dawn is admitted to Hyde Park High School where she also takes classes at the University of Chicago, we can see that she may be leaving the other girls behind. 

Most descriptions of the book will tell you that Kim died at age 24 and Debra was addicted to drugs and incarcerated while Dawn became a successful journalist, novelist, and Nieman Fellow. Those are facts. Three Girls from Bronzeville invites the reader into the truth beyond the facts.

It’s more important for readers to know that this book is what it tells us it is: “a story of second chances. Who gets them, who doesn’t, who makes the most of them.” Read Three Girls from Bronzeville to feel what getting or not getting second chances can mean to both the community at large and to those who do or don’t get them.

Summing it Up: This memoir of growing up on the south side of Chicago shows the power of believing in second chances and forgiveness. It reads like a compelling novel especially when the author reconnects with her imprisoned friend Debra and examines her own life. It combines the author’s meticulous reporting skills with her desire to find the truth. Rarely does a memoir capture the characters in the writer’s life as well as Turner does in Three Girls from Bronzeville. Read this poignant, powerful, inspiring memoir and select it for your book club to ponder.

Appearances: Dawn Turner will open the Printers Row Lit Fest in a conversation about Three Girls from Bronzeville at 10 a.m. Sept. 11 in Chicago’s South Loop. https://printersrowlitfest.org/

Dawn Turner will also participate in the Harbor Springs Festival of the Book on September 25. She will appear in two panel discussions: “Subverting Stereotypes'' at 10:30 a.m. and “Reclaiming a Life” at 3:30 p.m. FYI: I’ll be moderating a session titled “Making the Midwest Universal'' at 9:00 a.m. Festival registration is waitlisted at this time. 

A Note: If you love this memoir as I did, you might want to read a spectacular novel that’s also set in Bronzeville and other areas of Chicago’s south side. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West is a testament to friendship, secrets, and family.

Rating: 5 stars 

Category: Five Stars, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Nonfiction, Soul Food, Super Nutrition, Book Club 

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

About the Author: https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Dawn-Turner/148064544

Interview with the Author: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-dawn-turner-three-girls-bronzeville-20210903-4vyxdlk6tvbsvj7cjfts4xu4ka-story.html

Read an Excerpt: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Three-Girls-from-Bronzeville/Dawn-Turner/9781982107703

What Others Are Saying:

Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/dawn-turner/three-girls-from-bronzeville/

Library Journal: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?reviewDetail=three-girls-from-bronzeville-a-uniquely-american-memoir-of-race-fate-and-sisterhood-2118398

New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/06/books/review/dawn-turner-three-girls-from-bronzeville.html

Publishers Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-982107-70-3

Labels: Book Club, Five Stars, Nonfiction, Soul Food, Super Nutrition
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Three Girls From Bornzeville is a memoir that chronicles the live of author Dawn Turner, her younger sister Kim, and her best friend Debra Trice. In the book, Turner tells the story of her youth from childhood well into her adult years.

It is tragically relatable in such that, although Turner writes specifically of her friends and family, this story could easily be that of others in the country. Change the names, faces, and the details and and it could be anyone who grew up on similar circumstances.

I was a bit hesitant when first starting this book because it is not what I expected but in the end, I throughly enjoyed this book. I thought that the characters were incredibly relatable in their own right. This is especially true when considering the dynamics between younger and older siblings and the expectations placed upon them by themselves, those around them, and each other. The idea of living in the shadow of those who are perceived as doing better or doing “the right thing” is palatable. 

Voluntarily reviewed after receiving a free copy courtesy of NetGalley, the Publisher and the author, Dawn Turner.
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Dawn, her sister Kim, and her best friend Debra are third-generation daughters of the Great Migration living in a historic neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side. They’re inseparable, until a twist of fate, heartbreak, loss, and murder send them in different directions. In this memoir, Dawn Turner looks for answers to how race, class, and opportunity impacted their sisterhood.

This is a really fascinating cross-section of lives impacted by systemic racism. It's also a testament to the power of friendship even under impossible circumstances. It took me a while to understand where the story was headed, but the second half of the book was really engaging. I'm so grateful to hear Dawn, Kim, and Debra's stories.
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Really good work-- I was engaged from start to finish. The writing, subject drew me in from the beginning and
didn't let go.
This should be on anyone's fall reading list.
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Throughly enjoyed this story about Dawn, her sister and her best friend. Chicago holds a very special place in my heart too so I do enjoy stories that take place in the city I too grew up in. Well written and an enjoyable read
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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 details the relationship between her and her mother and her sister.  She also touches upon the relationship she tries to build with her estranged father which I wish had been explored a bit more.  
The strong female relationships within her family are woven throughout the memoir. 

She intertwines housing history and public events to give the reader clarity. The challenges of the inner-city are detailed and the gentrification of neighborhoods is explored through the years. I had a hard time putting the book down.
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Wow! This was such an incredible read. Watching the way her neighborhood transforms was heartbreaking and powerful. Turner deals with many issues within her family and her community and its the story of three girls and how they react to these things. Watching their paths diverge had me realizing so many things about the world we live in. A must read!
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