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Breathe - Sale!

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Breathe: A Letter to My Sons (Hardcover)
by Imani Perry

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2020 Chautauqua Prize Finalist

2020 NAACP Image Award Nominee - Outstanding Literary Work (Nonfiction)

Best-of Lists: Best Nonfiction Books of 2019 (Kirkus Reviews) - 25 Can't-Miss Books of 2019 (The Undefeated)

Explores the terror, grace, and beauty of coming of age as a Black person in contemporary America and what it means to parent our children in a persistently unjust world.

Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity. She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love--finding beauty and possibility in life--and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition.

Perry draws upon the ideas of figures such as James Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ida B. Wells. She shares vulnerabilities and insight from her own life and from encounters in places as varied as the West Side of Chicago; Birmingham, Alabama; and New England prep schools.

With original art for the cover by Ekua Holmes, Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience.

"Before reading Breathe, I knew that Imani Perry was the most important cultural worker in my professional life. But I had no idea that Imani Perry, or any writer in this country, could pull off what she pulls off in Breathe. More than any book I've read in the last twenty years, Breathe boldly reminds us that artful intentionality is not nearly as important as artful effectiveness, and artful effectiveness is shaped by the love a writer has for her intended audience. Somehow, Perry manages to mourn, celebrate, theorize, and welcome us into the space between, and around, this Black mother and her Black sons. Though the language here is different from all of Perry's other work, the attentiveness to sustained analysis is even more apparent. One feels that Perry had to write her other five books to write this one, the smallest and ironically the most rigorous, personal, and soulful of all of her genius work. Breathe is the first book I've ever needed to read out loud with my mother."
--Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir

"There are moments when a piece of writing is so honest, so personal, that it crawls into us. Moments when words attach themselves to instances in our pasts, visions of our futures, or the purgatorial questions of today. Breathe is that. Perry gives us a look into what it means to love her children--her Black sons--in a world that may not. What it means to arm them with information, history, culture, spirit, pride, and joy. What it means to celebrate with them the vastness of their lineage and the tight network of community, which affords them an impenetrable freedom to be. To just . . . be. And as Perry gives this to her sons--her family--with such candor and respect, I couldn't help but hear my own mother speaking her truth, our truth, to me."
--Jason Reynolds, Newbury Award honoree and author of the Track series, Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu

" Breathe is at once a resplendent meditation on the labor and art of parenting and on the 'special calling' of mothering Black boys in America. By turns fierce and loving, intimate and erudite, and drawing with deep complexity on her Catholic theology and spirituality, Imani Perry interweaves the most universal of dreams and desires with the particular traumas of our world of 'wild-eyed' whiteness. In so doing she offers her sons--and all the rest of us, and our sons and daughters--a vision of human resilience and wholeness that could reframe and redeem this young century's painful reckonings."
--Krista Tippett, founder and CEO, The On Being Project, and curator, The Civil Conversations Project

 

About the Author


Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she also teaches in the Programs in Law and Public Affairs, and in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and spent much of her youth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chicago. She is the author of several books, including Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry. She lives outside Philadelphia with her two sons, Freeman Diallo Perry Rabb and Issa Garner Rabb. Connect with her on Twitter (@imaniperry).

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