Arts & Leisure

Book review: The Yellow House: A Memoir — by Sarah M. Broome

(Grove Press)
A 2019 National Book Award winner and a New York Times Top 10 Book, Sarah Broome’s “The Yellow House” is the history of a home, the story of a family, a treatise on urban planning, and a deeply personal memoir — all in one extraordinary package. Broome constructs an inviting narrative around the little shotgun house in East New Orleans that her mother purchased in 1963 at the age of nineteen, and where she raised twelve children before it was demolished by the city after Hurricane Katrina. The attributes of the house itself — its structure, site, décor — are a kaleidoscopic lens through which Broome explores the troubled history of New Orleans and her own family’s complicated relationships to the place and to one another. “The Yellow House” is an enjoyable read that shines with compassion and humor, but which also addresses themes of race, class, and social justice. I read it over a year ago and can still envision in my mind’s eye the Yellow House’s brown-paneled living room, hear the traffic on Chef Menteur Highway, and taste the sweetness of banana Laffy Taffys from Miss Octavia’s kitchen-slash-candy-store. What really sticks, though, are the incarceration, segregation, and myriad racist policies illuminated throughout: injustices which amount to the demolition of Black lives, like so many flood-damaged houses.
— Reviewed by Becky Dayton of the Vermont Book Shop

 

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