Megan Harlan
August 16, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Mama's Girl

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Veronica Chambers
genre
Memoir, Biography

We gave it an A

Twenty-five might seem an early age to write a memoir, much less one as affecting and eloquent as Mama’s Girl. But Veronica Chambers’ rise — from an underprivileged Brooklyn background to editorships at The New York Times, Premiere, and Glamour — is remarkable, as is her spare, lilting writing style. Her mother, a Panamanian immigrant who exchanged an abusive marriage for strenuous single parenthood, dismissed Chambers’ early academic excellence and ambitions, calling her an ”Oreo” (black on the outside, white on the inside). Chambers’ peripatetic adolescence included a rough year in South Central L.A. and a nightmarish stay in her father’s violent household; she escaped via a scholarship to Simon’s Rock of Bard College in Massachusetts at age 16. On the often painful circumstances she has faced — her mother’s coldness, what it means to be black in the post-civil rights era — Chambers writes with probity. And she illustrates her thoughts with well-culled details (such as her childhood passion for double-dutch jump rope) that are telling and lyrically rendered. A

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