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Dawn Turner Trice Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Only Twice I've Wished for Heaven (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Eighth of August (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Three Girls from Bronzeville (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Dawn Turner
Dawn Turner is a novelist and award winning journalist. As a former columnist and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, she spent a decade and a half writing about politics, race, and people whose stories often get ignored and dismissed.

Dawn, who served as a 2017 and 2018 juror for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary, has written commentary for the “PBS NewsHour”, The Washington Post, “CBS Sunday Morning News” show, the “Chicago Tonight” show, NPR’s “Morning Edition” show, and other places. She’s also covered national presidential conventions, as well as Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election and subsequent inauguration.

She’s been a regular commentator for many national and international news programs, and has reported from around the globe in countries like Ghana, China, Australia, and France. Dawn spent the 2014-15 school year as a Nieman Journalism fellow at Harvard University. In the year 2018, she served as a fellow and journalist-in-residence at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

In the year 2018, Dawn established the Dawn M. Turner and Kim D. Turner Endowed Scholarship in Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her alma mater.

Dawn was pushed to write “Three Girls from Bronzeville” for decades, since she lost her sister. It was tough for her to relive some of the painful parts of her life, particularly after her sister’s death. It was the most difficult writing project of her whole life. She believed she could spend a lot of time looking at it from a very objective and detached perspective, and that was certainly impossible.

She left the Tribune after her Nieman fellowship in 2014 at Harvard, and she probably wouldn’t have left had she not taken this time off, because during her career at the Tribune, she’d not taken more than two or three weeks off at a time, although to take a full year off it really helped her to reimagine her life and what she actually wanted to do as a writer, as an author, as a journalist, and as an human being. That was a transformative year for her.

“Only Twice I’ve Wished for Heaven” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 1998. In the year 1975, Tempestt Saville and her family get selected by the lottery to “move on up” to Lakeland, which is a square mile of sparkling emerald lawns and apartment towers where the Black elite live sheltered away from the ghetto by a ten-foot-tall, ivy-covered wrought-iron fence.

Temmy, age eleven, does not enjoy this privilege, though, and believes that Lakeland is the “Kingdom of the Drab”. Instead, she finds she’s more drawn to the more vivid world located outside the fence: to 35th Street, where the sinners and saved are both so “done up” you cannot tell one from the other. Her curiosity soon takes her down a more dangerous path, though, and after she witnesses a friend’s death, she sets off a series of events that is going to send 35th Street up into flames.

“An Eighth of August” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2002. A new novel about the haunting memories and strong ties which bind friends and family in a small town. Narrated by a chorus of voices, this tells the tale about a Midwestern community which celebrates the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation each year.

Celebrants come from near and far to pay tribute to the rich heritage of the ex-slaves that settled this Illinois town. However along with the festivities come some painful memories and the long-buried resentments, and while this current year’s celebration isn’t any different, it is going to offer up its own brand of freedom to one extended family and the wonderful eccentric white woman whose life gets entwined with their own.

Wavering between the uplifting and devastating, this is ultimately an exuberant and enduring read.

“Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2021. This book offers a penetrating exploration of opportunity, sisterhood, race, friendship, and the powerful forces at work which allow some folks to flourish while others falter.

They were three Black girls. Dawn was tall and studious; her sister, named Kim, was three years younger and just as headstrong as they come; and Debra, her best friend, is already prom-queen pretty by the third grade. They bonded, both intensely and fervently in that special way of little girls, while they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood located on Chicago’s South Side, which is the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black people that fled the ravages of the Jim Crow South.

These third generation daughters of that Great Migration come of age during the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It’s offered up a promise, albeit a more fragile and nascent one, that’ll provide them with more freedoms, opportunities, and rights than any other Black Americans in history. Their striving, working class parents are eager for them to realize this hard-fought potential. Yet these girls have far more immediate concerns: eavesdropping on grown folks’ business, while hiding underneath the dining room table. Collecting some secret treasures, and daydreamng all about their futures. Kim will be a teacher, while Debra and Dawn want to be doctors.

For a short, wondrous moment these girls are all dreams, promises of “Friends forever” and giggles. But then fate intervenes, first slowly and then more dramatically, sending them off careening in wildly different directions. There is displacement, heartbreak, loss, and even murder. Dawn struggles to just make sense of the shocking turns which consume her best friend and sister, the whole time asking herself a simple yet profound question: why?

Chronicling Dawn’s efforts to find out answers. It is at once a celebration of friendship and sisterhood, a testimony to the special struggles Black women face, and is a tour-de-force about the complicated interplay of class, race, and opportunity, and how those forces continue to shape our lives and our capacity for redemption and resilience.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Dawn Turner Trice

One Response to “Dawn Turner Trice”

  1. Kathleen: 2 weeks ago

    I grew up in Chicago on the South Side many years ago. I belong to a neighborhood book club in Overland Park KS and we are reading your book 3 girls from Bronzeville at my suggestion.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed the book . I wanted to ask what you are doing now?


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