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Book Review: Belle Greene

Title: Belle Greene: A Novel of America's most famous librarian

Author: Alexandra Lapierre

Spec Spot

What's it about?

Belle Greene is the novelisation of the story of Belle Greene, the woman who ran the Morgan Library in New York and become not just one of the most successful women of her time, but also the most famous librarian in America.

Belle Green was born to a black activist father and a light skinned mother. Living in the early 1900's, identifying as black becuase she had black family, even if she didn't look the part, hindered her and her siblings from chasing their dreams as they imagined. So, after her father decided to leave the family, and the country, and the family matriarch passed, Belle and her family changed their last name, moved and began living as a white family.

Belle, a bibliophile through and through, happily set on the path of working among the stacks and the shelves of a college library where she happily began making connections and relationships with some powerful individuals. Soon, she had bibliophiles across the world wrapped around her finger, men infatuated with her and a library that she ran and affectionately called her own. And, while her life was not perfect, she lived a life of adventure as she traveled across oceans, set eyes on some of the most amazing literary works and pushed the limits of what a woman could do while secretly laughing that not only was she a woman, she was a black woman turning the literary world upside down.

My Thoughts...

Usually, this is about the time where I share all of my favorites but,it didn't feel quit right to do it here. I think it's because the people and the events in the book are real. They aren't some made up characters, born from the mind of an author. I know that things didn't happen exactly as portrayed in the book (we can't know what everyone thought, felt or even said for every part of the book). I also don't want to judge real people too much from the way they are portrayed in one novel. So, instead, I thought I'd just share my thoughts and feelings...which are complicated. .

I was disappointed first. I was frustrated and disappointed that one, I'd never heard of Belle Greene before in my life and two, America really sucks sometimes. I hate(d) the role women, black people and black women played in society. The idea that people, like Belle, had to live in fear of being found out and losing everything they worked for and earned just makes my stomach churn. Hearing her story, about what she did and the impact she had, it makes me sad for my younger self and for all of the other girls out there who never got to learn about this strong, determined woman who refused to conform into perfection to please those around her. I loved seeing this woman achieve the seemingly impossible. She's a woman that deserves the be seen, deserves to have legendary status. So why do we not talk about her more?

The book isn't perfect and it does skip big gaps in time, but, even though it felt like it took forever for me to read it, (I just read this book slowly and because it took me longer then it usually does, it felt like loooong time), I really enjoyed it. It's made me want to seek out more information about Belle Greene and I'm now convinced that I need to visit the J.P Morgan library someday. I don't think I'll read it again, but I also don't think this is the last of Ms. Greene I'll see, either.


I give this book a


out of

10 precious books

But that's just what I thought. What did you think? Has she become one of your heroes, too? Or did you think she wasn't all that special? Have you ever heard of her before? Let us know in the comments.

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