July 2017 Indie Next List
“I approached Dungy's book with the same feelings I had when starting Maggie Nelson's Argonauts. I had very little in common with the writers of these two books or the experiences related in them, yet with each I found myself drawn in by the acute intelligence of the writing and pulled along by the sheer compulsion of a story well told. Not only is Dungy a more than capable storyteller, she writes like the poet she is, and, like all poets, she leads us across a boundary, expanding our worlds.”
— Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, CA
As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then toddler, intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child, but as black women. With a poet's eye, she celebrates her daughter's acquisition of language and discoveries of the natural and human world around her. At the same time history shadows her steps everywhere she goes: from the San Francisco of settlers' and investors' dreams to the slave-trading ports of Ghana; from snow-white Maine to a festive, yet threatening, bonfire in the Virginia pinewoods.
With exceptional candor and grace, Dungy explores our inner and outer worlds--the intimate and vulnerable experiences of raising a child, living with illness, conversing with strangers, and counting on others' goodwill. Across the nation, she finds fear and trauma, and also mercy, kindness, and community. Penetrating and generous, Guidebook to Relative Strangers is an essential guide for a troubled land.