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Keeping the Faith: Stories of Love, Courage, Healing and Hope from Black America.

by Travis Smiley Doubleday, October 2002 $22.95, ISBN 0-385-50514-0

For his sixth book, radio host, TV personality and author Tavis Smiley has collected stories of everyday African-Americans, who have survived and thrived, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Keeping the Faith is intended not only to encourage and inspire, but also to let Smiley's audience know that they aren't alone when life presents them with challenges. The book makes the point well, focusing on faith and the `black love' found among black families--blood relatives and otherwise--who provide the strength and support to keep going when bad things happen.

To his credit, Smiley uses the heartfelt stories of ordinary people to make his point that keeping the faith is what has allowed African-Americans to overcome hardship and tragedy, hence the book's title. There are also the very personal recollections of well-known African Americans like Danny Glover, Cornel West, Iyanla Vanzant and Smiley himself, sharing what has helped them through rough times in their lives. Most of us remember Smiley's rather public dismissal from BET; and Smiley has not forgotten either. Readers may not relate to Smiley, West or Vanzant the way they would for the couple whose infant has leukemia, or the son who must watch his mother succumb to cancer. Still, the wealth and status of black celebrities doesn't insulate them (or their families) from the curve balls that life sometimes throws. Smiley's readers and listeners probably know that he is one of ten siblings, but what is not so well known is that four of the ten were cousins, who were legally adopted by Smiley's parents, and that all ten children were raised in a trailer home, and that at times his father worked to six part-time jobs to keep everyone fed.

Keeping the Faith reads a bit heavy with medical tragedies, but there are genuine miracles in the book as well. In each case, the storyteller talks about how they overcame adversity and why they're better people because of it. The themes of hope, healing, black love, family and education are included in these inspiring stories of overcoming adversity.

--Tracy Grant is a frequent contributor to BIBR.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Grant, Tracy
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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