This feature originally appeared in the July 2017 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.
Robinne Lee came into many of our lives as the little sister in the Hav Plenty, one of my favorite nineties films. Over the years she has grown into a asssured actress (Being Mary Jane), and with The Idea of You (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99), her inaugural novel, she proves to be an adriot storyteller, Lee presents a refreshing tale that tracks the bond between Solene Marchand, 39, a sophisticated art gallery over, and pop star Hayes Campbell, who is all of 20 years old, as they travel the globe. Lee writes knowingly about cosmopolitan amour and juicy intimate scenes that will make you blush.
Looking for an edge-of-your-seat suspense yarn? You won't find a more absorbing story than Getting It Right (Open Lens, $15.95), the debut effort by Karen E. Osborne. In it we get to know half sisters Kara and Alex, who meet for the first time as adults. Over two weeks in March, the siblings deal with both their own and common issues and drama in ways that entertain and enlighten.
I stumbled upon United Shades of America, the CNN docuseries held down by its amiable host, W. Kamau Bell. His first tome, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4", African-American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian (Dutton, $28), gives us deeper insight into his open-eyed view of a troubling and increasingly divisive world.
Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (Pantheon, $27.95) edited by Angela J. Davis is unequivocally the most important read of the season. This exhaustive piece delves into the injustices within the criminal justice system and its disruptive and generational effects on Black boys and men, who are cogs in a network that surgically pinpoints them as a means for profit.
Remember this name: Zinzi Clemmons. Long may she thrill us with exquisit works like What We Lose (Viking, $22), her debut. Young Thandi, our heroirne, grows up in Pennsylvania feeling like a fish on a bicycle, why? As a biracial woman whose mother hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, she struggles to define home. In Clemmon's hands the book is a remarkable journey.