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Unafraid of the dark; a memoir

Bray, Rosemary L.

105 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679425551 / ISBN 13: 9780679425557
Published by Random House, New York, 1998
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About this Item

xvii. 246p., signed and dated year of publication by the author, a very good first edition in cloth-backed boards and unclipped dj. The African American author/editor's journey from 1960s Chicago to Yale. Bookseller Inventory # 181177

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Unafraid of the dark; a memoir

Publisher: Random House, New York

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


In this stunning memoir, Rosemary Bray describes growing up poor in Chicago in the 1960s and becoming one of the first black women at Yale--and she shows why changes in the welfare system make it virtually impossible for her inspiring story to happen today.

"Certain things shape you, change you forever," Bray writes. "Years later, long after you think you've escaped, some ordinary experience flings you backward into memory. Being poor is like that. Living surrounded by fear and rage is like that. I grew up hating the cold, dreading the approach of night. Thirty years later, a too-cold room at night can trigger a flash of terror."

When Rosemary Bray's mother decides to apply for welfare, it creates a rift between her parents, and yet it proves to be the salvation of the family, enabling the Bray children to be educated--and education was the one thing her parents agreed upon as the only way to a better life. Bray writes movingly about her resourceful mother, who joins the Catholic church and shepherds the children to school. The nuns at the Catholic school spot Rosemary's potential and arrange for her to become one of the few black children at Parker, a predominantly white private school on the other side of Chicago. In a series of powerful vignettes, Bray describes the shock of discovering the discrepancies between her life and the lives of her affluent classmates. She writes of the experiences that gave her hope: a teacher fostering her development and choosing her to play the title role in Alice in Wonderland; the thrill of being accepted at Yale; falling in love; becoming a journalist; and, ultimately, becoming a mother.

In this beautiful memoir about how the dark in a life can be overcome, race, gender, and social problems are explored as a fine writer tells the story of a life.


In elegant, passionate prose, Rosemary L. Bray uses her personal history to persuasively defend America's much-maligned welfare system. A smart black girl from the Chicago slums didn't have much chance of going to Yale or becoming an editor at the New York Times Book Review before Aid to Families with Dependent Children helped Rosemary's selfless mother make ends meet and keep Rosemary in school. Bray's account of her progress is both inspiring and despairing, as she criticizes the welfare "reforms" that closed to others doors that were opened for her.

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