Allow me to introduce you to the second book I’ve discovered this year to make my list of Best Books of 2021: Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans.
What qualifies on this list of Perfectionist Wannabe’s Best Books of 2021? I don’t know. It is the same je ne sais quoi I saw in a hockey player when I watched him on the ice, that intuitive knowing that he was going to make it big in the NHL. It was that je ne sais quoi I saw and wrote about that gave a lot of kids their big shot in the NHL to prove to the GMs that I really did see something great within them. Many players proved me right, having long careers, even becoming captain of their teams. With books, there is no way to accurately define that je ne sais quoi. You just know when that feeling arises that this book is on a whole different level than the others.
For my second find of the year, I discovered this thanks to @berittalksbooks on Instagram. Her buddy read introduced us to this collection of poetry by Newark, New Jersey native Jasmine Mans, who is also the resident poet of the Newark Public Library.
I’ve read a lot of poetry over the years and I have not found any modern day poetry that has resonated within my soul the way Black Girl, Call Home has. That’s what makes this work so unique. Like Rumi, Byron and Yeats, their works survived for hundreds of years because they stirred your heart or resounded within your soul. They spoke truth to your core being. That’s what makes you grasp onto their words and carry it with you for the rest of your life.
In Black Girl, Call Home, I found my head shaking along with her intimate discussions regarding Kanye and her dire disappointment in what he could have been when he finally made it big. It was as if he betrayed everything he believed in…everything she believed in when she listened to his words when he first showed up on the scene.
Her words reside under your skin as you feel her kisses upon another woman’s skin. Your heart is yanked out of you when she describes what it is like to fall in love with someone who cannot love you back, because their kind of love is forbidden.
When she tells the story of her little four year old cousin and Michelle Obama, your hand will go to your heart knowing how beautiful and precious that moment means to all the little ladies who have finally found someone to look up to…someone that looks just like them. A little girl that doesn’t know much about the world, knows how important Michelle Obama is to this world.
This collection of poems by Jasmine Mans resonated deep within me. This wasn’t about relating someone’s story to my own story, which is what people look for in poetry. No. This was about feeling what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. To feel that heartbreak. To feel that great love. To feel that want of someone you can never have, but you love them fiercely. To taste that potato salad at the community cookouts. To know how it feels to hear whispers of what boys say about rape. She opened the door to her soul and I saw everything she wanted to show me. This is Jasmine Mans.
That is what went into this je ne sais quoi to help me decide to add this book to my list of Best Books of 2021. I’ve read 38 books so far this year. Only two have been chosen so far.
I’d like to thank Berit and Berkley Publishing for allowing me access to this title.[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of review. This site contains affiliate links.]
You can order your copy and copies for all of your friends by clicking on the book below. This is a book you will want to add to your curated library. I have.