I just finished asha bandele's new book Something Like Beautiful. It is subtitled: One Single Mother's Story and indeed it depicts bandele's struggle as a single mother, raising her daughter Nisa alone after the dissolution of her marriage. She receives no help from her ex because he lives in a prison. He is a convicted felon and bandele actually met and married him in prison. She details all of this in an earlier memoir caled, The Prisoner's Wife.
In Something Like Beautiful, bandele doesn't so much tell us what happened next chronologically as meditate on her feelings of loss, hopelessness and fervent desire to, despite it all, be a good mother to her daughter. The first lines of the book, "This is a book about love and this is a book about rage," kind of give you a sense of where bandele is heading. She is a poet and despite the fact that she's dealing with abusive relationships, single parenting, the criminal justice system, substance abuse and a whole host of other societal ills, the book is not ugly. It is actually, something like beautiful.
Personally, I wanted to know more specifics, more details, more linear travel instead of jumping form scene to scene, emotion to emotion and the stream of consciousness letters to her daughter. But then again, that's what depression feels like, apparently. It's not linear, and it doesn't always make sense. I do not in any way identify with bandele -- except that she too is a Black woman -- but now I feel like I can honestly say that I feel her pain, which is something that we all need to be able to do for other women in the same place. We need to learn how to be compassionate, instead of judgmental.
The book is a quick read that will probably have you searching out more of bandele's work. She also writes fiction and poetry. I didn't love this book but I appreciated the raw honesty poured into it and I felt I learned something about the painful choices women make for love.