Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Break Any Woman Down" by Dana Johnson

157 pages

In this collection of short stories, Dana Johnson explores race and gender identity with honesty and often humor. Most of the stories feature women who are trying to find their own place in a world that tries to identify them by their race. There's one about a black stripper whose white boyfriend, a porn actor, insists she stop stripping. In another, and eleven-year-old girl as a crush on a white boy from Oklahoma who, like her, is an outsider in their Los Angeles school. Another story features a woman who struggles to break free of the low expectations her mother has for her. Dana Johnson does a great job of bringing these characters to life, which is difficult to do in the limited space of short stories. As with any collection, there are some stories that I liked more than others. For the most part, though, I enjoyed them all. They offer short glimpses into these women's lives, but these glimpses show aspects of their lives as a whole. 

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