Thursday, August 28, 2014

No Crystal Stair

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): “Black is beautiful . Black isn’t power. Knowledge is power. You can be black as a crow or white as snow but if you don’t know and you ain’t got no dough, you can’t go and that’s for sho’.” ~Lewis Micheaux

Author: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, R. Gregory Christie
Info: Carolrhoda Books, copyright 2012, 188 pages

Coretta Scott King award-winning author Vaunda Micheaux Nelsons great uncle was Lewis Micheaux, owner of the famous National Memorial African Bookstore. Located in the heart of Harlem, New York, from 1939 to 1975, Micheauxs bookstore became the epicenter of black literary life and a rallying point for the Black Nationalist movement. Some of its famous and most loyal patrons include Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Langston Hughes, and W.E.B. DuBois. In this inspiring work of historical fiction, Nelson tells the true story of a man with a passion for knowledge and of a bookstore whose influence has become legendary.

~Goodreads Description

No Crystal Stair reads like a nonfiction book but is the fictionalized history of Lewis Micheaux, the owner of an African American bookstore in Harlem.  Micheaux believed in the power of education and the importance of reading to expand the mind and discover one's heritage.  This man, from a meager background, found himself as a figure in history, counseling voices like Malcom X, Langston Hughes, and Nikki Giovanni.  Through real photographs and newspaper articles, the life of Lewis Micheaux develops on the page.  It's the story of perseverance, faith, and the belief that life is for the taking.

No Crystal Stair is just different.  It's a bit preachy, but it's well written and offers a fresh perspective on a time period not normally visited in young adult literature.  The story is fast paced, with alternating voices and shifting media, all of which lends itself to creating a mood that fits the time period and expounding on the "documentary" format.

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