With warmth and empathy, this multigenerational novel traces the lives of two families in a divided Southern community.
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Why I love it
Jenna Bush Hager
Co-host, TODAY with Hoda & Jenna
What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster is a sweeping, fresh new novel. It is the story of two American families, specifically two mothers, each fighting for a better future for their kids. As a mother myself, I related to moms Lacey May and Jade’s fierce love for their children, even when they made mistakes. Nobody understands us like our families, even when imperfect.
Set in Piedmont, North Carolina, Lacey May and Jade find themselves on opposite ends of a debate when their community begins to bring students from the largely Black east side of town into high schools on the predominantly white west side. Lacey May’s daughter, Noelle, and Jade’s son, Gee, cross paths while participating in the school play meant to bring the students together. As their lives become irreparably tied together, their mothers make choices that will haunt each of them into their adult lives. What starts in their small North Carolina town expands into other places for decades to come showing how families rise and fall together.
The story is epic in scope. It is about understanding the demons and the hardships that come before us and how they affect our lives. It will spark conversations around race, identity, and what it means to belong in our families, schools, and communities while racial differences, misunderstandings, and personal tragedies create chasms between us.
A community in the Piedmont of North Carolina rises in outrage as a county initiative draws students from the largely Black east side of town into predominantly white high schools on the west. For two students, Gee and Noelle, the integration sets off a chain of events that will tie their two families together in unexpected ways over the span of the next twenty years.
On one side of the integration debate is Jade, Gee's steely, ambitious mother. In the aftermath of a harrowing loss, she is determined to give her son the tools he'll need to survive in America as a sensitive, anxious, young Black man. On the other side is Noelle's headstrong mother, Lacey May, a white woman who refuses to see her half-Latina daughters as anything but white. She strives to protect them as she couldn't protect herself from the influence of their charming but unreliable father, Robbie.
When Gee and Noelle join the school play meant to bridge the divide between new and old students, their paths collide, and their two seemingly disconnected families begin to form deeply knotted, messy ties that will shape the trajectory of their adult lives. And their mothers—each determined to see her child inherit a better life—will make choices that will haunt them for decades to come.
As love is built and lost, and the past never too far behind, What's Mine and Yours is an expansive, vibrant tapestry that moves between the years, from the foothills of North Carolina, to Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Paris. It explores the unique organism that is every family: what breaks them apart and how they come back together.
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Love the interweaving stories of two families and the impact that one tragic incident has on the future of them all. Portrays beautifully the complicated relationships between race, generations, class
I was moved to tears a few times by the vulnerability and honest reflection of the complex characters in this book. It started a little slow for me, but I got fully immersed and could not put it down.
Round Lake Park, IL
Very similar to The Vanishing Half, this novel straddles the racial divide. The characterization and storyline is near perfect and the relationships between family members is heartbreaking and real.
The alternating viewpoints and timelines could have been confusing, but that is this story's strength. She brings so much empathy to all the characters even the unlikable ones. Excellent storytelling!
Stunning multi-generational drama that focuses on two families and covers a span of roughly 30 years. This is a slow burn, but I really enjoyed it and the ending was fantastic. Loved this one so much.
I thought this book was amazing. I had a hard time putting it down - the interwoven stories and the feelings really came to life on each page. I liked her style of writing and would love to read more!
The family dynamics and the perception of all involved about what brought them to this stage in life, but most of all I love how even in their worse there was still love, change but love nonetheless.
The first chapter grabs your attention right away. The dynamics of race and class were navigated in an interesting and authentic way culminating in relationships both gained and lost realistically.
A gripping story about how our past, our family, and ultimately our choices shape who we become. I loved the dysfunctional characters, the bittersweet twist & that touching ending. Highly recommend!
Hudson , OH
This book is definitely a slow build but I love a book that takes a deep dive into it’s characters complex stories. Inside the characters gritty, messy lives there is so much beauty to be found.
This was a different pick than I would normally go for and I’m so glad I did. A diverse set of characters who were well written and developed. None were perfect, just as people are in real life.
The many stories in this book was amazing to read back and forth and figure how they all intertwined. I was disappointed at the end because I wanted everyone to find out how they were connected.
Byron Center, MI
The characters lives are so intertwined. The issues that it brings out are so relevant to today, and they really made me think about what is happening in our world, and how can I look at issues.
This book is about family; how we pick our own by whom we choose to love, forgive, tolerate, accept, understand, or reject. Since finishing this book, I've thought about it often. Enjoyed it!
Beautifully written prose, and a poignantly captivating story about imperfect people, their interconnectedness, and their oftentimes wrong choices. I appreciated the raw yet heartfelt ending.
Northport , AL
I loved the multiple perspectives and alternate timelines. A beautiful story of love, loss and family. Everything was knit together as race, class, and love was examined by cast of characters.
I loved seeing the vastly different experiences based on birth order for our main family. The pain and nuance of love in each relationship - family, sister, parent, lover - is so well written.
The story of two families divided by their differences but more similar than they care to acknowledge, this was an amazing, thought-provoking read that will stick with me. Best of 2021 so far!
One of the best books I've read in awhile. Naima Coster is an incredibly talented writer, somehow pulling together many character perspectives and timeline jumps in a thought-provoking story.
West Chester, PA
There is a lot to unpack in this book, racism, parenting, addiction, are a few of the topics that would make great book club discussions. I enjoyed seeing the characters develop of 20 years.