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Life Is Short But Wide (Cooper) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Gutsy and familiar.... [Cooper’s] power comes from sticking to her instinct, which is to tell a story, plain and simple.
Washington Post


Exuberant.... Cooper’s stories reveal a meticulous attention to the nuances of African-American life.
San Francisco Chronicle


What a voice.... Cooper celebrates family, freedom, perseverance, life, and…powerful voices finally heard.
Atlanta Journal Constitution


Cooper brilliantly captures the cadences of the South and draws a picture of American life at once down-to-earth and heartwarming in this—as her wise narrator will tell you—“strange, sad, kind’a beautiful, life story.” It is a story about love that leads to the ultimate realization that whoever you are, and whatever you do, life is short, but it is also wide.
African American Literature Book Club (aalbc.com)


With another multigenerational, wonderfully crafted Midwest ensemble cast, Cooper (Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns) presents the town of Wideland, Okla., through the eyes of folksy nonagenarian Hattie B. Brown. This community sentinel, though sometimes short on memory, acts as tour guide and historian, introducing the town at the beginning of the 20th century, when the railroad first arrived and, with it, a growing population. Among the new residents, Hattie introduces the industrious, loving African-American cowboy Val Strong and his Cherokee "brother-friend" Wings; Val's hardened but beautiful wife, Irene Lowell; and their two strong-willed daughters, Rose and Tante. Following the Strong family and their associates through the better part of the 1900s, Hattie finds history running roughshod through their lives, crushing some and strengthening others, introducing new generations and obstacles to love, home and happiness. Cooper's characteristic motherly wit carries an appealing raft of characters through a world tougher than it is tender, but touched with beauty and wisdom.
Publishers Weekly


Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston's groundbreaking 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, this story chronicles the lives of impoverished blacks in the town of Wideland, OK, from the early 20th to the 21st century, as told by the town gossip, Hattie Brown. Narrated with gentle wit and humor, the book explores the importance of love, religion, redemption, and family. Cooper allows the characters to speak in the African American Southern dialect, a technique that lends veracity and texture to their personalities. The pace of the plot is like a slow-burning fire: there's time for rumination, but readers won't be bored. Some, however, may be irritated by frequent references to the Bible and the Christian overtones throughout.
Orville Lloyd Douglas - Library Journal




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