cover image Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America

Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America

C. Nicole Mason. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-06992-4

Mason, executive director of the Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest, a Manhattan-based women’s foundation, approaches the topic of poverty in America from an insider’s perspective. In this raw and intimate memoir, Mason takes readers from her childhood in California to her acceptance at Howard University, chronicling her struggle to break through the boundaries and limitations of growing up poor. Born in 1976 to an unmarried teenage mother, Mason loved learning, and school became her anchor in a volatile, violent, and ever-changing world. The family often moved from place to place, her young mother’s marriage to a drug dealer bringing even more danger and disruption into their lives. As the author entered her teens and felt the dire need to escape her mother’s abusive partner, she was welcomed by her grandmother in Las Vegas. Her circuitous course reveals the ongoing challenges involved in confronting the barriers of poverty and the pervasive risks of drugs, teen pregnancy, abuse, gangs, and racism. Along the way, Mason discusses the malfunctions of the criminal, legal, social services, and education systems, offering the alternative solution of a new, tiered system of family support. Mason vividly illustrates the grit, determination, and “herculean effort” necessary to reframe a young life steeped in unyielding poverty. (Aug.)