Of all the work Pearl Cleage has written, plays and novels and poetry, I want to review this one first because it embodies the woman herself, her voice, her life, her events, her insights. It is as if we are at lunch and giggling and she is telling me all these stories exactly this way, very patiently, but in such a compelling way that I can’t stop listening. And while it’s her history, it’s mine, too, because I lived in the same city as she, watched her develop into the writer that I wanted to be, grew to love her writing as much as I loved anybody’s. But with Pearl everything runs a little deeper; it was her person that I admired, the firebrand who would walk off panels and out of meetings whenever she found she needed to make that statement. Like the day she walked off a panel with Alfred Uhry, who was holding forth on the subject of playwriting when his only real qualification was that piece of 50s servant-master nostalgia that everybody knows about. Or like the day she made a lot of prominent artists circle up and take an oath to fight racism in all its forms. This book is full of stories like that, and the beauty for me in reading it is that I was there for a few of them, watching her do so much work in so many places. As she says, back in the days before she got to be so respectable. She’s one of the true souls of the world. Still the same after Oprah and having superstars play roles in her plays and all. The book conveys her honesty and clarity through and through.