Asha Bandele is a poet, political activist, community organizer, editor, a novelist with an MFA…and, as she says, a statistic: a single black mother. In her powerful and lyrical book, Something Like Beautiful, she takes on the myths about single motherhood and tells it like it is, confessing the truths of her battle with depression and drinking, and offering a vision of hope for all women struggling to keep it together on their own.
Bandele’s first memoir, The Prisoner’s Wife, about her marriage to an incarcerated man she met when performing her poetry at prisons went through four printings in hardcover and twelve in paperback. The book sold through word-of-mouth and because of Bandele’s incredible spirit. She is gorgeous, eloquent, and passionate.
While on a book tour for The Prisoner’s Wife, Bandele got pregnant, during a trailer visit with her husband, Rashid. As she writes Something Like Beautiful, she never thought of herself as being a single mother. She felt sure that Rashid would be paroled soon. But when her daughter, Nisa, was 6 months old, Bandele learned that Rashid would be deported if he was indeed released. All of Bandele’s dreams of a happy life disintegrated, and what follows in her memoir, Something Like Beautiful, is her struggle to keep it together: to hold down her job as an editor at Essence, to raise her daughter, to balance her finances, to fight discrimination. On the surface, like many women in her position, she does just that. Inside she falls apart, drinks too much, and falls into an abusive relationship with another man. What saves her in the end is her love for her daughter, and the example of her daughter’s vivid engagement in life.