Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana BurkeWhat it is: activist and Me Too founder Tarana Burke's empowering debut memoir chronicling her commitment to social advocacy.
Don't miss: Burke's candid reflections on seeing her work co-opted by social media campaigns that initially failed to credit her.
Further reading: Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill.
Poet Warrior by Joy HarjoWhat it is: United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo's lyrical and engaging follow-up to her 2012 memoir Crazy Brave.
Topics include: Harjo's Muscogee upbringing with a poetry-loving mother, who encouraged the author's interest in words; surviving abuse from her father and stepfather; finding communion with fellow Native writers as a University of New Mexico student in the 1970s.
Reviewers say: "A gorgeous, compassionate memoir from one of America's greatest living writers" (Kirkus Reviews).
Slonim Woods 9 by Daniel Barban LevinHow it began: In 2010, Sarah Lawrence College freshman Daniel Barban Levin met Larry Ray, the charismatic father of his roommate, Talia. When Ray moved into the communal house Levin shared with Talia and other friends, no one batted an eye.
But then... Ray's charms turned manipulative, devolving into sexual and physical abuse and indoctrination into a cult of his own making.
Book buzz: Ray's disturbing exploits were previously chronicled in the 2019 New York magazine article "The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence."
Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn TurnerWhat it is: journalist Dawn Turner's moving memoir detailing her 1970s coming of age in the South Side of Chicago's historic Bronzeville neighborhood (known as the city's "Black Metropolis") alongside her younger sister, Kim, and her best friend, Debra.
Read it for: a powerful examination of diverging paths and second chances, told with candor and empathy; an immersive portrait of life in post-civil rights era Chicago, drawing upon dozens of interviews.
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie WangWhat it's about: In 1994, seven-year-old Qian Julie Wang and her family fled China, settling in New York City's Chinatown. Over the next five years, they battled poverty, racism, labor exploitation (including Wang's own time working in a sweatshop), and the constant fear of deportation.
For fans of: emotionally affecting memoirs that explore the reality of life as an undocumented immigrant, like Marcelo Hernandez Castillo's Children of the Land.
Book buzz: Hailed "a new classic" by Publishers Weekly, Wang's haunting debut was September's Read with Jenna Book Club Pick.
The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine by Yousef BashirWhat it's about: Yousef Bashir's childhood in occupied Palestine during the Second Intifada, when Israeli soldiers seized his family's farm.
The turning point: Shot in the back by a soldier at 15, Bashir was paralyzed for more than a year. During recovery, he vowed to follow in his pacifist father's footsteps and become an advocate for peace.
Where he is now: A former member of the Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation to the United States, Bashir is the Director of Research & Operations at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.
The Terrible: A Storyteller's Memoir by Yrsa Daley-WardWhat it is: a frank blend of poetry and prose that explores acclaimed poet Yrsa Daley-Ward's upbringing in England.
Topics include: the author's West African and West Indian heritage; being raised by her Seventh-day Adventist grandparents; her sexualization from a young age and later forays into sex work; addiction and mental health battles.
Reviewers say: "The subtitle is apt: Daley-Ward has quite a ferociously moving story to tell" (Kirkus Reviews).
Mean by Myriam GurbaWhat it is: experimental writer Myriam Gurba's darkly humorous reckoning with her formative and ongoing traumas including sexual violence, racism, misogyny, and homophobia.
Why you should read it: Gurba's wry and thought-provoking reflections will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page.
Try this next: Cherríe Moraga's bittersweet memoir Native Country of the Heart similarly explores queer and mixed-race Chicana identity.
Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age by Darrel J. McLeodWhat it is: Cree author Darrel J. McLeod's family history, told in lyrical and fractured prose.
Read it for: a hopeful account of persisting in the face of generational trauma -- McLeod's mother, a survivor of a Catholic residential school, struggled with alcoholism, leaving McLeod to care for himself and his younger siblings.
Did you know? "Mamaskatch" is a Cree word with several meanings, including "How strange" and "It's a miracle."
Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc TranWhat it's about: After the fall of Saigon in 1975, author Phuc Tran and his family immigrated to America, winding up in a predominantly white small town in Pennsylvania. An outsider among his classmates, Tran found solace in punk music, classic literature, and skateboarding.
Why you might like it: Equal parts funny and affecting, Tran's memoir will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to fit in.
Don't miss: chapters named after Tran's favorite books, including The Scarlet Letter, Pygmalion, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
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