Cover Image: Memphis

Memphis

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Member Reviews

This is an in-depth interwoven story of a family over the different generations. It shows us that even after having been through abuse and hardship there is still a way forward. 
The timelines can be hard to follow a bit but I liked how we got to see the different characters through time. 

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!
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I loved this generational, matrilineal story of the legacy of talents and trauma. The four women over three generations are so well realized that I wish the youngest was also given a voice.

A small quarrel: the author didn’t nail the one male voice that gets any time (which is VERY little), and I’m not sure she even needed to include the story he tells because it ultimately adds nothing. And a second quarrel, strangely specific to my expertise, is that 9/11 is included forcibly and without much purpose other than to get a character in the room. Everything that happens because it is included (including getting that character in the room) could have been left out or otherwise resolved.

And, erm, there’s a strange car error: a character “popped the trunk, then the hood and thrust [her] arms into the entrails of that ancient car” to fix a dead battery herself, with no mention of a new battery, or jumper cables/another car combo. The battery is generally quite easily accessible and doesn’t require thrusting one’s arms into anything, and you don’t generally carry around a back-up battery, much less tow another car around, just in case you need a jump. And, perhaps putting too fine a point on it, the character had fewer than three days to learn to drive a manual, very powerful sports car, with no other mention of her driving, so I’m doubting a changing-the-battery lesson was tossed in even *if* there were a battery in the trunk. And, again, nothing would have come of literally deleting this scene. 

Otherwise, excellent. The book is due to be published on April 5. Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for the ARC.
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Hmmm. This book was good, but not great. About 50% in, I was starting to become frustrated with the non-linear narrative. If you're going to write your novel in this format, then don't give too much away after each chapter is finished. What makes a non-linear narrative work in other books is the element of surprise. There's no anticipation of what's to come. Everything the author intended the reader to uncover is already uncovered before you know it. Also, I didn't like the tone of this book. Everyone and everything came off so forced and contrived. I'm still rating this book 3 stars because I think stories about racism, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and childhood trauma are important stories to tell. But with that being said, I was aggravated with the adults in this book. It's bad enough Jax is a wifebeater, but Miriam and August aren't characters to root for either. The only character you feel any empathy for is Joan. And if you'll already read this novel, then you'll understand why. Miriam, August, and Jax are sorry excuses for parents. Joan and Mya deserved better. As for Derek, he isn't worth talking about. "Memphis" is one of those novels you'll end skimming through. Such a shame. This book could've been magnificent. 

Thank you, Netgalley and Random House for the digital ARC.
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This was such a beautiful and touching story following three generations of Black women with roots in Memphis. Through all their trials and tribulations they always had Memphis to fall back on, and each other. 

This was a brilliant novel. Just as Joan does for art, Tara Stringfellow has a gift for writing and I hope she continues to pursue that gift.
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Joan, Mya and their mother Miriam show up in Memphis at the family home after Joan's father abuses her mother. The marriage, which had started so well, was struggling and needed to end. Living in the family home is Aunt August and her son Derek. This was the only option for Miriam since she had no job, no money, and no one else to turn to. Miriam is nervous though because there is history between Derek and Joan. Joan avoids Derek at all costs. What happened? Can their problem be solved or is it part of the fabric of the family?

The family story unfolds gradually as we move from past to present learning what makes this family who they are today. Miriam has to find her way forward and raise her daughters in the house she grew up in as a single mother. The neighbors protect the daughters of the girl they remember. As pieces of the story begin to fall into place, we see sadness and joy through the eyes of Joan, Miriam, August, and Hazel. These women are strong. They deal with adversity and hold their heads high. Joan finds herself at a crossroads and must decide whether she will stay true to her own desire for the future or capitulate to her mother's plan for her future. What will Joan decide? Does her mother support Joan as an independent woman? 

Memphis is a book that drives the reader to the heartwarming conclusion. The characters are magnificent. They are strong, fragile, flawed, and determined. These ladies are women you want to have as friends. There is a true sense of community here and that is what we all need. Tara M. Stringfellow tells this story lyrically. She uses beautiful syntax to tell this story. Memphis lives and breathes in the words and phrases she employs. This is a generational story illustrating the bonds of family in spite of flaws. It is rich, deep and one that must be experienced.
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I live in Memphis. I've lived here my entire life and that's a big reason I chose this. I love seeing anything that represents my home and supports stories about or written by Memphians! I loved this book. I cried and felt like I was there- because I recognized many places in this book and had the unique experience of actually seeing these neighborhoods in my mind from actually knowing them. Memphis, Tennessee is the primary setting of this multi-generational story about some very strong women and the men who have lived among them. Memphis, itself is very much like one of the characters in the way this is written and I loved that. The story shifted back and forward through decades as we were able to learn of the women’s loves, losses, hopes and dreams.
The women, August, Miriam, Hazel, and Joan experienced hard times. Miriam returned to her family home with two daughters and not a lot of hope after a tumultuous marriage that didn't work out. Her sister, August welcomed her sister and nieces with a heart plagued with angst caused by the actions of her troubled son. These women must tap into their gifts/talents and inner strength to provide for their children and support each other. The blended family grows and adjusts to unexpected challenges as best they can in city like Memphis that falls into disarray as it struggles with an economic recession, addictions, and the increasing level of violence in the family’s neighborhood. I especially enjoyed  how the references of actual historical events (a few occurring in Memphis) were worked into this fictional story with parallels to the plot and cleverly crafted to influence our main characters in both positive and negative ways. The author creates a very strong sense of community and includes a few very colorful supporting characters who add elements of humor, mystery, and prophesy.
This is a wonderful debut and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
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I really enjoyed “Memphis.” The story of three generations of Black women in Memphis, TN — mothers, sisters, daughters — and how relationships, life, history, and race shaped them. I loved Tara Stringfellow’s writing; visionary and even lyrical at times, I could really see and feel the house on Locust Street and Aunt August’s kimono — as well as each character. Tara created characters I cared about and felt with. As a white woman, this book was also enlightening in the way it shows how race shapes and affects Black women’s lives, even in the smallest ways. I’ve been to Memphis several times, and I now have a greater appreciation for the city and its history.
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It was kind of difficult to follow all everyone's story. Other than that it was an ok story. Nice to see other people's reason of why they became who they are.
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Memphis is the inspiring story of strong black women who overcame horrific obstacles to live in peace with their pasts. It's the story of sisters, Miriam and August, and their relationship over time with each other, and offspring, Derek, Joan, and Mya, and how together, they learn survival and forgiveness, and are able to face the future with hopeful anticipation.

This book is well written, but a tad on the long side, and I did find myself skimming some of the descriptive passages. I would recommend this book to my women friends, but I'm not sure my male friends would appreciate the struggles of these black women.

Thank you, Netgalley, for allowing me to read and review Memphis.
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Memphis introduces us to three generations of the North family women.  Stringfellow creates strong, black female characters who all deal with pain and loss and grief.  Through the story of their lives, we learn about the anger and frustration and rage that comes from being black and being female in the South.  While eventually we learn about Hazel, Miriam, August, Joan and Mya, the mixing of the times and characters’ stories makes it a bit of a difficult read to follow.  That is my only real criticism of the book.  Otherwise, it reminds me of reading Tony Morrison in that Stringfellow hits us with ugliness in a way that makes us uncomfortable.  However, in this novel, there is hope and understanding and even some forgiveness.  I can see why this has been touted already as one of 2022’s best new reads.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Memphis
This novel is a powerful story of three generations of a black family from Memphis. Hazel and Myron, the oldest generation met in a deli, that was more a general store, than a deli, owned by Stanley, a German Jew. Theirs was a true love affair, only the cruel times during the civil rights movement tore them apart. But the house Myron built for Hazel stayed in the family and was home to their children and grandchildren.
From the 1960’s to September 11, and beyond, this is a remarkable story of one black family’s struggle. The book held my attention from the very beginning. The story is told from each character’s point of view in different times. I give this book 4.5 stars, rounding it up to 5. I found the multiple times in past and present sometimes confusing, the half star off is because of that. 
Thanks NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the advanced copy. 
I wish much success in promoting this book.
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Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Joan and her sister go with their mom to her parents house. They have suffered many years of abuse from their father. The abuse would shape her and her sisters life for many years to come. This was an insightful look into one family's life over several generations.
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It is said that it takes a village to raise a family. In Tara Stringfellow's Memphis, the village is the Memphis neighborhood of Douglass. And the multiple generations and their stories are blended together in a rich narrative, so rich that it's hard to put the book down. I, for one, would love to see a sequel to see Miriam's future.
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Memphis was an incredible, hard hitting book. The female characters were really well written and reading in any of their perspectives was great. I like multiple POVs and am comfortable with non-linear stories, but I found this one could get confusing. The chapters indicated the character and hear, but the author would still go into different time periods within that, so I occasionally felt confused about whether the characters were narrating the past, present, future.
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Gotta admit I picked this up because I love the city of Memphis but this story surprised and humbled me.

It's beautiful and captures a multi-generational family's trauma and strength. The characters and setting (OMG! THAT HOUSE!) will take you on a ride. Memphis has been the epicenter for so much American history and this book shows us some of that history in a relatable and human way. The story bounces back and forth between the women in the West family, at different periods, and culminates in all their emotional peaks. 

A must-read for 2022!
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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

This powerful work of historical fiction follows three generations of Blacks living in Memphis. It is told in flashbacks from the points of view of its main characters. They have survived hate, abuse, and degradation both from within the family and from the community. Family traditions are important and are passed from generation to generation. The women in this family saga are strong and supportive and do what they must to endure the hardships they face daily.

Through it all, we see the hopes and dreams of Joan, a young woman who yearns to be an artist, even if she has to be the first Black, female artist of note in history!
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Memphis is such a journey and a joy. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. The writing was so seamless it was easy to get lost in the stories of the North family women. There was such a depth in each of the women. I could not put it down and read it one sitting and when the book was over I immediately wanted to be back in the house with Joan and her family. You will want a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea while you are reading. I need a sequel ASAP. 

Readers will be able to make connections with each of the women in the book. I adored every page of Memphis
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Hi All, 

Stopping by to share a Book Date Monday with you. I received an early copy of this one and am excited to share it with you! 

Author: Tara M. Stringfellow
 
Summary from Amazon:
A spellbinding debut novel tracing three generations of a Southern Black family and one daughter’s discovery that she has the power to change her family’s legacy.

Summer 1995: Ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s explosive temper and seek refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. This is not the first time violence has altered the course of the family’s trajectory. Half a century earlier, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass—only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in the city. Joan tries to settle into her new life, but family secrets cast a longer shadow than any of them expected.

As she grows up, Joan finds relief in her artwork, painting portraits of the community in Memphis. One of her subjects is their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who claims to know something about curses, and whose stories about the past help Joan see how her passion, imagination, and relentless hope are, in fact, the continuation of a long matrilineal tradition. Joan begins to understand that her mother, her mother’s mother, and the mothers before them persevered, made impossible choices, and put their dreams on hold so that her life would not have to be defined by loss and anger—that the sole instrument she needs for healing is her paintbrush.

Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis paints an indelible portrait of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith and forgiveness, sacrifice and love.

 Personal Review: 
I really enjoyed this book! It was a book that made me think about family and about what that means, especially over time and to others. I enjoyed the story and background. Thank you for the opportunity to review this one.

Happy Reading!
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The City of Memphis is the backdrop for this intense, well written novel. Miriam escapes a domestic violence situation and returns  home to Memphis with her girls Mya and Joan  and living with Miriam’s sister August. Also in the home is August ‘s  son  Derek who assaults Joan  and is arrested. Told in flashbacks the story revokes around Miriam and August trying to make ends meet, Joan’s  artistic talent being recognized  and developed and Mya  doing her best to be a kid despite the tensions in the home. This is very well written and I can see a sequel hopefully in the not too distant future
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Beautifully written saga about 3 generations of Black women in Memphis.  This does not read like a debut novel.  Loved it.
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