All of Me: A Voluptuous Tale

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9780525944638: All of Me: A Voluptuous Tale

After suffering from a breakdown, an African-American woman begins to rebuild her life and learns to love herself for the first time in the process. 35,000 first printing.

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Review:

At the opening of Venise Berry's absorbing second novel, TV reporter Serpentine Williamson is jotting a few dispirited lines into a journal that her psychiatrist has insisted she keep. She has tried to kill herself. Yes, she tells Dr. Greeley, a man was involved, "but a lot more was going on in my head." What really drove her to attempt suicide was her own damaged self-image as a full-figured black woman and her constant, discouraging attempts to drop the pounds, find a good man, and make her mark in television. Since childhood, Serpentine has embraced every fad diet and weight-loss technique as it emerged, even submitting herself to a humiliating seaweed wrap that required her to stand for two hours in an empty bathtub draped in strips of wet plastic, looking, as her sister pointed out, "like a piece of Mama's day-old fried chicken when it's wrapped in the 'frigerator." Nothing made much of a difference. As it turns out, her recovery focuses not on her weight--or any single issue--but on Serpentine's expanded view of herself and her own possibilities. Near the end of the novel, Dr. Greeley tells her that it's clear, finally, that she loves herself. The question is how much. Leaving her doctor's office, Serpentine sees a shop sign advertising spa getaways, an indulgence she has never permitted herself.

In that moment, Serpentine knew her guiding fire was at work. Sometimes it was a vivid blaze lighting her way. Other times it was a smoldering ember that allowed her to choose her own path. She followed the fire inside the double glass doors.
Eventually, as her newfound assurance leads her out of her depression, she can describe her much-loved aunt in terms that might apply to herself, as well: "Her wide shoulders over ample hips are attached to big, pretty legs. It's a body that serves as an appropriate container for her exuberant spirit." --Regina Marler

About the Author:

Venise Berry is the author of the Blackboard bestsellers All of Me and So Good. She is an assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at the University of Iowa.

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Venise Berry
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