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"In this evocative memoir, Cassandra Lane deftly uses the act of imagination to reclaim her ancestors’ story as a backdrop for telling her own. The tradition of Black women’s storytelling leaps forward within these pages—into fresh, daring, and excitingly new territory." —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis When Cassandra Lane finds herself preg "In this evocative memoir, Cassandra Lane deftly uses the act of imagination to reclaim her ancestors’ story as a backdrop for telling her own. The tradition of Black women’s storytelling leaps forward within these pages—into fresh, daring, and excitingly new territory." —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis When Cassandra Lane finds herself pregnant at thirty-five, the knowledge sends her on a poignant exploration of memory to prepare for her entry into motherhood. She moves between the twentieth-century rural South and present-day Los Angeles, reimagining the intimate life of her great-grandparents Mary Magdelene Magee and Burt Bridges, and Burt's lynching at the hands of vengeful white men in his southern town. We Are Bridges turns to creative nonfiction to reclaim a family history from violent erasure so that a mother can gift her child with an ancestral blueprint for their future. Haunting and poetic, this debut traces the strange fruit borne from the roots of personal loss in one Black family—and considers how to take back one’s American story.


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"In this evocative memoir, Cassandra Lane deftly uses the act of imagination to reclaim her ancestors’ story as a backdrop for telling her own. The tradition of Black women’s storytelling leaps forward within these pages—into fresh, daring, and excitingly new territory." —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis When Cassandra Lane finds herself preg "In this evocative memoir, Cassandra Lane deftly uses the act of imagination to reclaim her ancestors’ story as a backdrop for telling her own. The tradition of Black women’s storytelling leaps forward within these pages—into fresh, daring, and excitingly new territory." —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis When Cassandra Lane finds herself pregnant at thirty-five, the knowledge sends her on a poignant exploration of memory to prepare for her entry into motherhood. She moves between the twentieth-century rural South and present-day Los Angeles, reimagining the intimate life of her great-grandparents Mary Magdelene Magee and Burt Bridges, and Burt's lynching at the hands of vengeful white men in his southern town. We Are Bridges turns to creative nonfiction to reclaim a family history from violent erasure so that a mother can gift her child with an ancestral blueprint for their future. Haunting and poetic, this debut traces the strange fruit borne from the roots of personal loss in one Black family—and considers how to take back one’s American story.

41 review for We Are Bridges: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Evocative. Historical. Present. How do you create an origin story, when the origin of your story has been stolen. Misused. Abused. Murdered. Belittled. Compromised. Damaged. Learning about your ancestors as a Black person is like searching down a rabbit hole. We can only go back so far, and then we hit a wall of nothingness and have to come right back up. Seeing how our oppressor didn’t really care or see us as actual people, but of property, and not even highly valued property, the record keepi Evocative. Historical. Present. How do you create an origin story, when the origin of your story has been stolen. Misused. Abused. Murdered. Belittled. Compromised. Damaged. Learning about your ancestors as a Black person is like searching down a rabbit hole. We can only go back so far, and then we hit a wall of nothingness and have to come right back up. Seeing how our oppressor didn’t really care or see us as actual people, but of property, and not even highly valued property, the record keeping is most often shoddy and derelict. Ensuring that our names are correct, our birthdates, our ages, our parents, our siblings, our children are listed accurately… was lost on them. They didn’t, and still do not, care for us as a people. We are nothing to them. It is as blatant and obvious as writing on a wall. However, Cassandra (‘Sand’ as her family/friends refer to her) wants to learn more about her ancestors. Specifically about her great-grandfather Burt Bridges who was murdered by the hands of white authority figures in 1904 for having something the white people wanted, and he so boldly told them no. The oppressors chose violence, even when Burt chose not to be violent and not kill someone who obviously wanted him to die. Cassandra goes searching for who her family members were, what they stood for in the community, what were their hopes and dreams, how did they feel, what was it like to live in those times? Although not much is shared with her from her living relatives at the time, she pieces together her origin story in a beautiful and poetic way that allows for healing, for reflection, for introspection, for memory, for love, and life. She discusses the shared collective issue every Black person has with their own history: “Where did my people come from?” “Who were they?” “What were they like?” She goes on a quest and documents what she finds and knits the pieces together like a beautiful tapestry. Ugly strings and all underneath, but on top, a gorgeous masterpiece that is interwoven with all sorts of wonders and gems and knowledge. Her story, to me, seems like a lament; a sad song. However, it also has notes of hope, forgiveness, love, redemption, and a future. She traces back her lineage to uncover her great-grandfather’s ill-timed demise of being lynched before his wife delivers their first child. The journey of his wife reluctantly embarking on setting up a new life, and how that one son, birthed a host of children, from which we now have Cassandra. Her memoir is moving and delves deep into issues that are pertinent and timely today. “We are bridges made of blood, and water, soil and skin.” (p. 66) 
Topics discussed in the book: - Freedom - History - Black Motherhood - Black childhood - Loss/love/future/the past - Generational/ancestral trauma - Blood & family - Memory as haunting/subtle/devastating - Oppression & death - Healing Her story is so relatable as a Black girl child living and growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. Having no idea about who my family all were. I can only trace back so far… learning through ancestry DNA tests where we generally came from, I am still lost. Searching. Hoping. I feel like in all of us (Black people) that we are missing pieces of our soul. We have a void in all of us, connecting us to our ancestors that were stolen. We don’t know where we came from specifically. Who our great-great-great-grandparents were. We are missing parts of us. On top of all that we constantly get beat down and killed from white supremacy who think we shouldn’t exist, that we shouldn’t be afforded any amount of comfort or life. White supremacy is exhausting, and Cassandra shares this exhaustion with us, in such a way that you become deeply invested in her story, hoping with her that she finds some nugget of truth. Some evidence that people came before her were alive and well, who lived full lives. She discussed real-world problems and how Black motherhood is both dangerous and rewarding at the same time and her fears of bringing another Black body into this world of ours, that is already hurting and bleeding and full of people that don’t want us to succeed or live. I sympathized with her and came to appreciate her flaws, and mistakes… as we’re all human. We’re all just trying to make some sense of our lives. However, when you don’t know where you came from or who came before you… parts of you drift off into an abyss, and I’m thankful that at least she was able to find some peace at the end of her journey. Highly recommend this book if you love origin stories and memoirs. Great topics and ideas to discuss with others, and this book provides a reader some space to reflect on their own history in regards to how you got here. Thank you to Feminist Press, Coriolisco, and Cassandra Lane for this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Martha Anne Toll

    My review if this book for NPR Books. https://www.npr.org/2021/04/21/988666... My review if this book for NPR Books. https://www.npr.org/2021/04/21/988666...

  3. 5 out of 5

    akacya ♡̷̷ˎˊ

    TW: abortion, lynching, racism (sorry if I’m missing any, I forgot to write them down as I was reading) We Are Bridges combines stories from the past with stories from a more recent past and the present to create a narrative discussing race, the past, and real life. I found the formatting quite interesting. This book is not set up in typical chapters, but Lane still manages to tell her stories coherently. Both her own story and her great-grandparents’ stories are written about, but it was never ha TW: abortion, lynching, racism (sorry if I’m missing any, I forgot to write them down as I was reading) We Are Bridges combines stories from the past with stories from a more recent past and the present to create a narrative discussing race, the past, and real life. I found the formatting quite interesting. This book is not set up in typical chapters, but Lane still manages to tell her stories coherently. Both her own story and her great-grandparents’ stories are written about, but it was never hard to follow along. Recommended for anyone looking for an inspiring memoir that doesn’t leave out the dirty details of the real world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emani Glee

    Whether it’s because of lack of information/incomplete documentation of their lives, or family members refusal to talk about their painful pasts, most of us are left wondering about the lives of our ancestors Cassandra’s thirst for information about her ancestors leads her on a quest to uncover her roots. In this memoir, she takes readers through her process of trying to piece together her stolen past to better understand her origin The power and beauty of We Are Bridges is that it’s about Cassan Whether it’s because of lack of information/incomplete documentation of their lives, or family members refusal to talk about their painful pasts, most of us are left wondering about the lives of our ancestors Cassandra’s thirst for information about her ancestors leads her on a quest to uncover her roots. In this memoir, she takes readers through her process of trying to piece together her stolen past to better understand her origin The power and beauty of We Are Bridges is that it’s about Cassandra’s lineage while also being a larger representation of a lot of Black people’s stories. The violence and countless murders experienced by our ancestors left a gaping hole in our history, and it has had a ripple affect on every following generation. A large focus of her story is how her great-grandfather’s murder at the hands of white people started the path that led to her birth and life experiences. The damage done by his violent murder combined with the demoralizing and inhuman treatment of her ancestors rooted itself in the mindsets and actions of the family members to come which led to dysfunction, lost traditions, lost recipes, abuse, mistrust among other things A lot of popular memoirs tend to be about a public figure of some sort, but even though the author isn’t widely known, this memoir is definitely worth picking up. While reading the prologue, I knew I was sold on completing the book. The writing is beautiful, deep, and at times poetic. Her story really resonated with me, as I am one of the many Black people who so strongly desire to know and have a connection with my history. I found myself deeply connected to her journey, and I enjoyed reading about some of the answers she found, and also the reimagining she did to fill in the blanks

  5. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Brackett

    I definitely recommend this book for its narrative beauty, but readers should understand discussions of racial injustice are graphic and upsetting. Lane’s exploration of her past is one which should interest readers, as she focuses on the unimaginable racial injustice of her ancestors and considers how to negotiate that knowledge into her modern-day life. Her narrative movement from the present to the past and back again throughout is made more interesting by her imagining her ancestors’ joys an I definitely recommend this book for its narrative beauty, but readers should understand discussions of racial injustice are graphic and upsetting. Lane’s exploration of her past is one which should interest readers, as she focuses on the unimaginable racial injustice of her ancestors and considers how to negotiate that knowledge into her modern-day life. Her narrative movement from the present to the past and back again throughout is made more interesting by her imagining her ancestors’ joys and horrors through their eyes. Some of this material is difficult to read, particularly the “memories” she inherits from her great-grandparents, Mary and Burt Bridges, including the lynching of her great-grandfather. Simultaneously, Lane experiences pregnancy and explains concerns over parenthood that white readers do not share. I found the quality of writing a bit uneven, in that her reconstructed dialogue rings stilted and unnatural to me. However, her lyrical narrative offers much to be admired, filled with a skillful use of comparative language - Lane is a poet masquerading as memoirist. We Are Bridges is a quick read and offers so many topics for thought and discussion: racism, self-identity, family dynamics, history, social concerns, the importance of memories to bridge from present to the past.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Greenwood

    I was an early reader of this book, and it moved me in ways I didn't expect. Lane's prose are poetry, and she weaves in her personal story with family history, as well as with imagined scenes from her ancestors' perspective. After reading, I'm a firm believer in generational trauma and in Lane as a writer and storyteller. I was an early reader of this book, and it moved me in ways I didn't expect. Lane's prose are poetry, and she weaves in her personal story with family history, as well as with imagined scenes from her ancestors' perspective. After reading, I'm a firm believer in generational trauma and in Lane as a writer and storyteller.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tesia

  8. 5 out of 5

    Connie Pan

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Coluccio

  10. 5 out of 5

    Greg Barbee

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heather Diamond

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maguse

  13. 5 out of 5

    Reggie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beverlee

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stacey A. Prose and Palate

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Hogmire

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Mudgil

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard Hedrick

  24. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  25. 5 out of 5

    Milana

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Lane

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rashaun

  31. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jay Moran

  33. 4 out of 5

    Satya Nelms

  34. 4 out of 5

    Kia Turner

  35. 5 out of 5

    Ari

  36. 4 out of 5

    Catrina

  37. 5 out of 5

    Renée

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jeanine

  39. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  40. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  41. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

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