CBR12Bingo – Yellow
This is a recently published memoir that is presented as a family history. Sarah Broom grew up in New Orleans East, a community that others would give her looks when she mentioned it to strangers, and as the youngest of twelve children, she tells the story of her grandparents, her parents, her siblings, herself, and the house at the center of their lives. The memoir tells the family history and its strength here is giving us a series of events from the 1950s and 1960s that feel almost mythic and ancient. If you look up the address that begins the book, you can find the empty lot (the house is torn down in post-Katrina “revitalization” — a corrupt series of practices that extracted money from government contracts and wantonly destroyed both dilapidated and not so dilapidated homes). So the family mythos feelings we get from the stories mirror a lot of the ways that looking at any event, told through narrative, before we were born take on.
The book also catalogs Broom’s own experiences growing up in 1980s and 1990s New Orleans, and after Katrina, her working as a communications director for Ray Nagin, the new famous mayor of New Orleans during the storm. This section is really interesting on its own, but doesn’t quite fit the rest of the book, as her role as archivist gets a little muddy in looking at her own story. Regardless, the book remains strong throughout. It’s best when it’s family storyteller and almost anthropologist, however.