Black Girl in Paris wends its way around the mythology of Paris as a city that has called out to African-American artists. Like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Josephine Baker before her, Youngblood’s heroine leaves her home, in the American South, nurturing a dream of finding artistic emancipation in the City of Light. She experiments freely, inhabiting different incarnations – artist’s model, poet’s helper, au pair, teacher, thief, and lover – to keep body and soul together, to stay afloat, heal the wounds of her broken heart, discover her sexual self, and, finally, to wrestle her dreams of becoming a writer into reality.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT AND/OR ANSWER:
- Eden left home with $140 to find artistic emancipation in the City of Lights, Paris. Have you ever dropped everything to pursue your dream? Have you thought of it? If yes, what city or country would you choose?
- Did you identify with Eden? At what point in the book where you most caught up in her decisions?
- Did the book provide interesting details about any particular occupation, activity, or other interest area?
- Compare Eden’s feelings towards Paris at the beginning of the book versus the end: how have her feelings changed?
- What impressed you about This book? Disappointed you? Made you curious? Confused you? Upset you?
(Questions from our outstanding Facebook group leader Mocha Girl Classy)
“… refreshing directness and infuses the novel with unabashed, sometimes unsettling sexuality.” — Publisher’s Weekly
MOCHA GIRLS REVIEW
Mocha Girl Melyssa
One thing I found it interesting about this book is that Youngblood set it in the 80s while writing it in the millennium. It could have just as easily been set in the time in which it was written. I suspect the author may have done this to demonstrate just how far way from home Eden traveled. With the technology today (and in the early part of the turn of the century), it’s so much easier to be close even when there’s great physical distance.
Black Girl in Paris reads like a collection of chronological essays. Youngblood’s prose is excellent and you want to follow her as a writer and Eden as the main character on this journey of self discovery. This book definitely kept me interested. This is not something I would have read but for book club. And that is one of the greater purposes of book club. I am glad I was able to partake and participate.
My ultimate takeaway from this story is that we cannot escape racism no matter the time nor location.
Recommendation: If you love Paris and the pursuit of one’s dreams, this quick read might pique your interest.
Mocha Girl Victoria
I wanted to love this book entirely but I have to admit that closer towards the end, I felt like I was waiting on something big to happen, but when that moment came, it felt so small. I did enjoy the journey through Paris and it does make me want to visit there more than ever. I just wish that this book could’ve given me something more. It’s kind of hard to put into words. However, I don’t regret reading this and I hope to read other works by Youngblood soon enough.
Mocha Girl Manika
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