Exploring girlhood to motherhood, Mahogany L. Browne’s poetry collection, Chrome Valley, offers an intimate portrait of what it means to be a Black woman in America. Using her own coming of age in Oakland, Calif., as inspiration, the YA author and poet looks at the pleasure and pain that comes with being a teenage girl: “You ain’t had freedom / ’til you climb on a bus 62 / & head to the closest mall / for a girl fight.” She often transitions from writing about the simple joys to tackling the larger battle being waged against her community. “I think ‘God! Is this the fight?/ To be Black and beautiful and breathing.’” Death is omnipresent in this collection because, as Browne explains in its opening pages, “When you are a black writer in America:/it gets harder to ignore the bodies.” Throughout Chrome Valley, she grapples with generational trauma while paying tribute to a long history of resistance. She delves into the anxieties that come with being a mother to a Black child by evoking the names of women—Mamie Till, Kadiatou Diallo, Sybrina Fulton—who have lost their sons to police violence. With great compassion and fury, Browne shows how survival has become an act of defiance. —Shannon Carlin

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