Marcie Alvis Walker's powerful debut memoir, Everybody Come Alive, plumbs the depths of her experience as a Black woman in America. The "youngest and darkest" of five children born to a single mother who wrestled with mental illness, Walker spent her childhood shuttling between her mother's house and her grandparents' home in a predominantly white neighborhood (where she attended school). The early contradictions Walker absorbed about race, especially as a woman, have informed her experience into adulthood and the work she does online through her website, Black Coffee with White Friends.
In conversational, truth-telling prose, Walker shares her experiences of the mingled love and racism she experienced as a child; the contrast between her beliefs in a loving, inclusive God and her experiences of church and other communities; and the process of advocating for her transgender child, especially in primarily white spaces. She's honest about having to unlearn her own prejudices, and she calls on her white readers to seek out diverse stories. Brief essays between the longer chapters pull in other voices from Black music and film and from the headlines: Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice's mother, other Black Americans who struggle under the weight of systemic racism. Walker doesn't shy away from her family's messy story, including her mother's struggles and their complicated relationship. Regardless of mess, though, Walker is insistent that everyone, no matter their skin color, deserves a life where they feel beloved and truly alive. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams