The Yellow House : A Memoir
by Sarah M. Broom


Overview - A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION

A brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir from a stunning new talent about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East.

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant--the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah's birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae's thirteenth and most unruly child.

A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America's most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother's struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser-known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the "Big Easy" of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.

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More About The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
 
 
 
Overview
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION

A brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir from a stunning new talent about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East.

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant--the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah's birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae's thirteenth and most unruly child.

A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America's most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother's struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser-known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the "Big Easy" of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780802125088
  • ISBN-10: 0802125085
  • Publisher: Grove Press
  • Publish Date: August 2019
  • Page Count: 304
  • Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Cultural, Ethnic & Regional - African American & Black
Books > History > United States - State & Local - South (AL,AR,FL,GA,KY,LA,MS,

 
BookPage Reviews

Home and hurricanes in New Orleans

Reaching far beyond the boundaries of memoir, Sarah M. Broom revisits the world of her childhood, decimated by Katrina, as she searches for the meaning of home and family.


Sarah M. Broom’s evocative, addictive memoir, The Yellow House, is more than the story of a girl growing up, or of her sprawling African American family, or even of the eponymous shotgun house where they all lived. It’s more than the story of her native New Orleans in the years before and after Katrina. This capacious work captures more than the particulars of a place or a state of mind. It infiltrates the very state of the soul, revealing a way of life tourists never see or, as the destruction of the hurricane and the post-storm neglect would underscore, pay any mind.

The youngest of 12 children born over a span of 30 years in a blended family, Broom begins this story with her clan’s circuitous journey to New Orleans East, a once sparsely populated outland that grew in population and promise when, at the height of the Space Race, NASA began building rocket boosters there and other industries followed. Broom’s father, Simon, who worked maintenance at NASA, died when she was 6 months old, and her mother, Ivory, was left to fend for herself and the children still living in their yellow shotgun house that Ivory had bought for $3,200 in cash when she was 19.

By the time Broom was born, NASA and much of the industry had all but abandoned the blighted area. Despite chronic financial struggles, Ivory proudly strove to keep up appearances. Indeed, one of the most fascinating features of the narrative is Broom’s subtle exploration of class distinctions within the African American communities of New Orleans.

When Katrina hit in 2005, Broom was grown and gone—working at a magazine and living in Harlem—but she has assembled the often-harrowing testimony of her family members who survived the cataclysm. Sacrificed by the powers that be, the largely black neighborhoods in New Orleans East suffered devastation. In the aftermath of Katrina, when the ruins of the Yellow House are deemed in “imminent danger of collapse” and slated for demolition, Broom realizes that the house “contained all of my frustration and many of my aspirations, the hopes that it would shine like it did in the world before me.” The house, she comes to see, held more than the memory of her father or the past. It sustained the very concept of home. And she understands that without the physical structure, she and her family are now the house.

The Yellow House is a lyrical attempt to reconstruct home, to redraw a map that nature and a heartless world have erased. The melodies of Broom’s prose are insinuating, its rhythms as syncopated and edgy as the story she has dared to write. With a voice all her own, she tells truths rarely told and impossible to ignore.

 
BAM Customer Reviews