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Kaitlyn Greenidge Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

We Love You, Charlie Freeman (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Libertie (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Kaitlyn Greenidge is a literary fiction author, novelist and New York Times columnist. She is best known as the author of “We Love You, Charlie Freeman,” a critically acclaimed novel that was her debut published in 2016. The novel was praised as wondrous by Booklist while Buzzfeed thought it was a masterful story even as it made the list of the Top 10 Books by the New York Times Critics. Greenidge is known for writing novels and essays themed on culture and race. Her essays have been featured on “American Short Fiction,” “Vogue,” “The Believer,” “Glamour,” “Virginia Quarterly Review”, the “Wall Street Journal,” “Transition Magazine,” “Elle” and “Buzzfeed” among many others. The author was a LENNY Letter contributing editor and a fellow of several endowments from the likes of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Whiting Foundation. During her fellowship at Harvard, she worked on an untitled novel that chronicled the life and times of New York State’s first black female doctor named Susan Smith McKinney Steward. The novel was about themes of black liberation, motherhood, romantic love, mental illness, Haitian voodoo and healing practices.

Growing up, the first place she visited and got a real connection with books was the library. Kaitlyn Greenidge used to go to an Arlington Heights library even though the building where it used to be has now been converted to other uses. The children’s section of the library had high windows and she used to sit by the window reading the novels she had picked out. Later in grade school, she would often visit the bigger library in East Arlington and spent about 35 cents on bus fare to get to the library. She also spent about two dollars on coke and two slices of pizza from a Greek Pizzeria a few streets from the library. Once she was full, she would spend much of her afternoons and evenings grabbing novels from the shelves and reading until she no longer could. Back at home, she was allowed to read whatever she liked as nothing was ever censored or forbidden. Greenidge could follow whenever her interests sent her and very early on discovered that the most interesting books were not the recommended books that people read to become smart. She learned to love her guilty pleasures and not feel shame about them and was fascinated with trying to learn more about the many themes and cultural relationship stories in the novels she read.

One of the themes of Kaitlyn Greenidge’s novels is the development of language within families. Intending to explore how families develop ways of communicating with each other she was inspired to write a novel that dealt with the theme and this is how “We Love You, Charlie Freeman” was born. She also wanted to analyze ways that languages develop within families to hide truth or create scenarios that promote dishonesty or truthfulness in communication. She believes communication can result in stronger relationships between people even as they are a source of comfort and strength. Greenidge also needed to explore the complicated nature of communication within families by using a story. Similar to many of her contemporaries, she went to college and graduated from Hunter College with an MFA though she initially started writing nonfiction works for a variety of publications. She currently resides in Brooklyn from where she writes her novels.

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s “We Love You, Charlie Freeman” comes with an interesting premise. A family has been contracted to go teach a forest chimpanzee named Charlie sign language. They are also expected to take in Charlie and make him a member of their family. To be successful in their mission, they will have to move away from their home in Dorchester to Massachusetts, where the chimp is housed at the Toneybee Institute. From Charlotte the teenage daughter of the family we learn that two of the lead protagonists of the story were very unpopular. They had been banned from booty music and fast food restaurants due to their bookish ways and constant singing. According to Mother Laurel, there is no better time to etch one’s name in history and she urges the girls to take the chance. Charlotte is hoping that she can shed her old identity and make a new one that will be more accepted in her new school. One thing she has going for her is that she is one of the very few black students in the class. Callie her sister only hopes for some love and attention. Their father seems uninterested and he may have agreed to the venture just because Laura needed to be part of the experiment. Thus a great adventure begins that rattles the family dynamics that they had believed would unite them.

“Libertie” by Kaitlyn Greenidge is a beautiful story that explores the theme of freedom. Liberties Sampson the lead of the novel is a freeborn Black girl making a living in Brooklyn during the Reconstruction era. Liberties Sampson knew that her mother could be purposeful and given that she is also a physician, he has a vision of their future. Libertie would attend medical school and for a time practice medicine. But Liberties being the girl that she is, feels stifled as she wants more even as her mother is making a lot of terrible choices. Unlike her mother who could pass for a light skinned person, Libertie is too dark and posing as the other side of the conflict may not be possible. When she gets a marriage proposal from a Haitian young man, she promises to be his equal but soon realizes that she is still subordinate to all men and especially her husband. Kaitlyn Greenidge tries to understand what Black Women feel, their struggles and emotions brought about by their skin color with regard to their race. The novel draws a lot of inspiration from the life of the first Black female doctor in the US. They novel resonate with our times and could be great for readers of Yaa Gyasi, and Brit Bennett.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Kaitlyn Greenidge

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