Who Raised Bell Hooks? A Review of Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood

Bell Hooks

It’s an unspoken rite of passage, but every black girl coming into their own will encounter Bell Hooks one way or another. She has raised many black women through her writing. But who raised Bell Hooks? Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood, first published in 1996, is a vulnerable and non-prescriptive memoir from an unlikely source. Bell Hooks is an academic and is known as such. Despite referencing personal relationships in books like All About Love: New Visions, these are often only used as examples and case studies to broach bigger subjects such as love, gender and race. Hooks’ childhood is not necessary to understanding her work, but it does shed light on the relationships that shaped her politics which is not always evident in her academic writing.

We also learn about Bell Hooks’ love of reading that alienates her from her immediate family. Portraits of the older characters in Bell Hooks’ life are more interesting as they fit the style and era of the writing style Hooks is mimicking. There are a handful of quotes that can be pulled from the book which reaffirm Bell Hooks’ prowess as a writer, but overall the book was disappointing in comparison to her other work. The Point of view of the narrator is inconsistent and confusing. This particular style of writing is reminiscent of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and there is something hypnotizing about this style of storytelling that is inspired by African oral traditions. However, it is not enough to sustain the reader’s attention. There is potential for success for this book in film and audio.