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The Real Lives of Strong Black Women: Transcending Myths Reclaiming Joy.

The Real Lives of Strong Black Women: Transcending Myths Reclaiming Joy by Toby Thompkins Agate Books, October 2004 $22.95, ISBN 1-932-84100-8

Whether celebrated or vilified for it, African American women have always been characterized by their strength. But when life coach Toby Thompkins decided to write a book celebrating the lives of "strong black women" three years ago, he discovered that in too many cases, women who spend themselves in service to their communities or caring for their families often neglect their own emotional and spiritual needs.

In The Real Lives of Strong Black Women, Thompkins asks what being "strong" has cost millions of black women in terms of happiness, health and spiritual fulfillment.

Thompkins's answers illustrate through conversations with people of both genders, are sobering: black women at every level find it difficult to love themselves, to build healthy relationships, to leave abusive situations and to relinquish the role of superwoman. With this book, Thompkins aims to help black women find their way to self-acceptance and joy.

The heart of his book lies in stories compiled from interviews and focus groups with women and men from diverse backgrounds across the nation. The author's training as a life coach and motivational speaker comes across in his informal, matter-of-fact tone. He writes as a concerned friend might, offering insight, affirmation and practical guidance for moving forward.

This book is not meant to replace conventional therapy, or provide a quick fix to life's problems. Many of the issues explored are familiar ones, but overall, Thompkins's enthusiasm is hard to match. His stories of women who've learned how to live full, satisfying lives may help women who've been longing for positive change to take a few more steps in the right direction.

Denise Simon is a writer in New York City. She is a frequent contributor to BIBR.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Cox, Matthews & Associates
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Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Simon, Denise
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
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