cover image Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me

Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me

Whoopi Goldberg. Blackstone, $28.99 (212p) ISBN 979-8-200920-23-5

Actor Goldberg (Two Old Broads) reflects in this tender chronicle on the deaths of her two closest family members. Goldberg grew up in New York City’s Chelsea projects with her mother, Emma, and brother, Clyde, while Emma worked tirelessly as a practical nurse and a schoolteacher to support her children. Even as Goldberg hits the requisite celeb memoir career beats—including sections on her one-woman Broadway show, her breakthrough film role in 1985’s The Color Purple, and her supporting actress Oscar for Ghost—she keeps the focus on Emma, whose thriftiness and lust for life filled the author’s childhood with happy memories of trips to Coney Island and Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes. Goldberg contrasts these reveries with the overwhelming grief she felt when Emma died, in 2010, from a stroke. Five years later, Clyde succumbed to a ruptured brain aneurysm, leaving Goldberg to face the world without the “folks who let her be exactly who she was and gave her the confidence to become exactly who she wanted to be.” Throughout, Goldberg’s earthy, no-nonsense voice anchors her commentary on the ravages of bereavement (“If you go into a funk, then really let yourself go fully into it. Pull up a fainting chair. Draw the curtains. Close out the world for a while and get as insane in your grief as you ever thought you could”). This is no dishy Hollywood tell-all—it’s a salve for wounded souls. (May)