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Smiley, Tavis, ed. Keeping the faith; stories of love, courage, healing, and hope from black America.

SMILEY, Tavis, ed. Keeping the faith; stories of love, courage, healing, and hope from black America. Random House, Anchor. 273p. c2002. 0-385-72169-2. $12.95. JSA

Smiley has assembled a heartfelt collection of over 85 anecdotes, social commentaries, and testaments of challenging experiences that have impacted black men and women from all over the country. Following a brief introduction by Smiley, the book contains seven main sections: Black Love, Inspiration, Faith, Grief and Healing, Hope and Overcoming, Education, and Family, Friendship, and Heritage. Some of the writers are well known, such as Dr. Cornell West, who recalls the love he received during his struggle against cancer; or award-winning actor Danny Glover, who describes how he overcame dyslexia. Others are inspirational speakers, such as Iyanla Vanzant, who discusses lessons learned during her brief career as a talk show host. But there are also a number of largely unknown writers who have important stories to share. Though the essays of the familiar are compelling, those written by the lesser-known offer a great source of strength, knowledge, courage and triumph. The biographies at the end help shed light on just how diverse and accomplished many of the contributors are.

As much as possible, each narrative corresponds with the section's heading, though there is some overlap as some of the subject headings are closely related. These essays are not for the fainthearted as many deal with tragic death, physical abuse and destitution. One of the most rewarding parts of the book is Smiley's own contribution. Each section opens with at least one short essay by Smiley that indicates how much he knows personally about "Love, Courage, Healing and Hope." Aptly titled, this book is highly recommended to anyone who needs to be reminded that his or her life has purpose and meaning. KaaVonia Hinton, Old Dominion University, VA
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Author:Hinton, KaaVonia
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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