Book Review: ‘All the Women in My Family Sing’, edited by Deborah Santana

ou know when you try to be ‘all-inclusive’, trying not to forget anyone, trying to talk about ALL women, but then you end up being so restrictive you should not even be allowed to use the word ‘inclusive’? Yeah, I know the feeling and I’m sure you do, too.

Well, this book, which is made up of a collection of essays written by women of colour, is NOTHING like that. The selection of essays in this book is so all-inclusive of truly ALL women and their experiences, that I felt ashamed of myself for often forgetting so many different kinds of women, with different kinds of experiences and backgrounds.

You may think that my statement is contradictory, since the book focuses on essays written by women of colour, which, in fact, excludes white women, right? As a white woman myself, I did not feel excluded or forgotten while reading this book. Granted, women who look like me were not represented in the long list of authors in this volume. The experiences were, nevertheless, so relatable that I felt like I was part of this big circle of sisterhood and womanhood that was created inside the covers of this book – making it truly inclusive and accessible to everyone.

The aim of this book was to give a voice to truly all women who usually do not have their voices heard. Experiences of white women are widely available in print and often dominate the discourses surrounding the female experience. How often have you heard the voice of an imprisoned woman of colour, her experiences and struggles with motherhood from behind prison walls? How often have you heard a woman of colour tell you about her near-death experience following childbirth – something that could have been avoided if the doctor had taken her seriously? I could go on for another hour, but you get the idea.

The brief, honest, and captivating essays cover topics from immigration, to single parenthood, to beauty standards, careers, creativity, racisms, or violence; they explore the bodies, minds and hearts of the women authors, and they give a unique insight into the struggles of women in America and, by extension, around the world. The essays enlarge our minds and perceptions of women, demonstrating that no one woman is the same, and that each one has her unique story, fitting into the larger narratives of the world.

These poignant essays explore the struggles between women’s aspirations and hopes and the obstacles they face in society, their families, or relationships. Some of them are brutal, some of them are hopeful, but all of them are encouraging. The selection of authors ranges from well-established and well-known authors, to early career writers, to academics, to businesswomen, to students. Each woman is valuable and her voice is valid, regardless of her background.

Reading a collection of essays can sometimes be compared to a rollercoaster ride: some essays will have you riding a high of adrenaline and excitement, whereas others make you wish it was over already. This collection, however, boasts a continuous stream of excellent essays, matching each other effortlessly in quality, emotion, and skill. That in itself speaks to the excellence of the authors, but is also a testimony to the talent and skill of the editor Deborah Santana. Every author has her own style and story to tell, but Santana so carefully edited this collection that the flow is seamless and perfect. While the essays form a coherent and flowing text, their individuality does, nevertheless, not go amiss. While reading the book, I found myself thinking about Deborah Santana’s obvious talent as an editor, since many well-known and seasoned editors before her have tried and failed at what she seems to have achieved so effortlessly.

This book is marvellous, it’s essential, and it’s important. It tells the tales of sisterhood and womanhood, it opens up avenues that have not explored before, it gives a voice to the unheard, it sheds light on the formerly ignored, and it will transform your view of women, their stories, and their experiences. This book will make you a better person, that is for sure.

‘All the Women in my Family Sing’ was published by NothingButTheTruth Publishing, click on this link for more books published by them.


*This book was sent to me by NothingButTheTruthPublishing free of charge.