Today we are going to talk about May’s book of the month, Just Above My Head by James Baldwin. But first, let’s check out this book and see what it is all about.
The stark grief of a brother mourning a brother opens this novel with a stunning, unforgettable experience. Here, in a monumental saga of love and rage, Baldwin goes back to Harlem, to the church of his groundbreaking novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, to the homosexual passion of Giovanni’s Room, and to the political fire that enflames his nonfiction work. Here, too, the story of gospel singer Arthur Hall and his family becomes both a journey into another country of the soul and senses–and a living contemporary history of black struggle in this land.
Questions to think about and/or answer:
1 – What about this story rings true to society today?
2 – What did you think of the entire novel?
3 – Why was Julia’s relationship with her mother stranded? And with her brother?
4 – What do you think happened to Peanut?
“The work of a born storyteller at the height of his powers… glimpses of family life in Harlem, rapturous music-making in the churches, moments of uneasiness in even the most casual meetings between whites and blacks–scenes that Baldwin seems preternaturally gifted in understanding.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A fine novel…it seems impossible for [Baldwin] to write with anything other than eloquence. His great and peculiar power is to re-create the maddening halfway house that the black man finds himself in late-twentieth-century America.” –The New Yorker
Mocha Girls Speak
Dear Lawd Jesus!!!!! DamndamndamnJAMES!
It was a song, a poem, an enterprise of faith. I am too attached to this book, the mechanics of Baldwin’s writing, and its content to be very objective in reviewing it.
Suffice it to say, if you have no knowledge of traditional gospel music, you will miss the grace of this text. As a music head & a girl grow’d up in the Chu’ch, this hit home….but beyond that…aaahhh!
I cannot, it is too close to me.
This is one of my favorite books ever and will probably be my favorite Baldwin work. I will be re-reading it immediately, like, starting tomorrow. It. Is. Incredible.
My absolute favorite of Baldwin, or anyone, ever. I haven’t been as moved by literature since the time I read this novel. So painfully incredible and joyous to be lost in these words.
This is my first James Baldwin read, however, I will need to read some of his books before this one. One of the initial books that he became famous for, because from reading this novel I can see that he is a very artistic writer. I just cannot see giving the story more than 3 stars. I like that he developed most of the characters very well and brought me into their world, however, I felt I was brought in quite a bit, but was left hanging at points. I did not like that Hall was the narrator telling the story for others, very intimate details and this made it unrealistic.
Other Books by This Author