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Publisher's Summary

Tracy K. Smith has a fairly typical upbringing in suburban California: the youngest in a family of five children raised with limitless affection and a firm belief in God by a stay-at-home mother and an engineer father. But after spending a summer in Alabama at her grandmother's home, she returns to California with a new sense of what it means for her to be Black: from her mother's memories of picking cotton as a girl in her father's field for pennies a bushel to her parents' involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. 

These dizzying juxtapositions - between her family's past, her own comfortable present, and the promise of her future - will eventually compel her to act on her passions for love and "ecstatic possibility" and her desire to become a writer. But when her mother is diagnosed with cancer, which she says is part of God's plan, Tracy must learn a new way to love and look after someone whose beliefs she has outgrown. 

Written with a poet's precision and economy, this gorgeous, probing kaleidoscope of self and family offers us a universal story of belonging and becoming and the ways we find and lose ourselves amid the places we call home. 

©2015 Tracy K. Smith (P)2015 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Ordinary Light

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Simply spoken - poetic

An honest memoir from the youngest child of an American
Family - beautifully read and not easy to stop push on audible. I felt calm as I listened. I wanted to meet this woman and know more.

45 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful and Poetic

This memoir is part coming-of-age, part spiritual journey, part treatise on race. It is beautiful and moving, putting words to describe a transition, a relationship, a hope...

Tracy tells her own story well, using both the written and spoken word. Her narration is occasionally awkward, her self-reflections are somewhat wordy, but it's well worth the time and credit.

2 people found this helpful

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Heartfelt

Beautiful love story between a mother and daughter... The story was very moving and the author's description of the relationship she had with her mother was inspiring.

2 people found this helpful

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Told Her Story Well

I enjoyed Tracy K. Smith's memoir. The primary purpose of it was the sharing of her life with her mother and her mother's death. At one point Tracy mentions discovering the value of telling one's own story; she did that well. I imagine that she received many blessings in the telling of her story.
Tracy must be a little bit older than my children. It was good to be reminded of how life is the same and yet different in each generation. Also, I found insights into the way Tracy was impacted by racial prejudice. Those of us, who have not had to experience skin color as an issue, may still have doubts about our value during our youth but we have not had this to contend with and I think it is helpful to be reminded of the pain of our sisters and brothers. That said, I hope that potential readers will not avoid this read by assuming it is a treatise on race relations for it is not. This is a touching memoir full of love and coming of age issues in the late twentieth century. I truly am grateful to have learned about this writer.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely Fantastic!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. It is my story.....or very close to it! I totally get it!

What did you like best about this story?

Smith’s description of what “home” is floored me. I knew after 20 minutes this book had me hooked. I listened to it in one day. I absolutely identify with this book. The words, cadence, story…all of it! This is a great memoir. If you happen to be from Northern, California you will find yourself absolutely hooked. Loved…loved…loved this book.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are too many. Again the description of home was perfection.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed and cried.

1 person found this helpful

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Wordy

Ms. Smith has a beautiful written voice; however, she uses a lot of words too get to a point. I often found myself thinking that she was too self-concerned. She has some insights into acquiring a personal sense of religion and grieving that are enlightened, and that I found helpful; but you have to make your way through a lot of minutiae to get to them.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Understanding youth a must read.

too descriptive of ,non essential events, can bore you with wordiness . A great book on understanding when to let go of children. applaud the author for her transparency of self in order to make her point.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Starts out great ... but

At first I was drawn in (Epilogue). then I struggled with the plodding story. I didn't finish it. I won't.

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Deeply touching

Just finished this book and I am in tears....the author’s experiences are so poignant, touching and relatable. Although I’m still lucky enough to have my mom in my life, she touched on so many fears I have as we both age. I’m also close in age to the author and my mom has a similar personality and upbringing, so I could relate so much to the time period and through my own childhood and adolescent experiences. This one will stay with me for a long time.

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A Personal Story of Life

This was a difficult read for me. It feels like a confessional, told in a way that may relieve the author of her life's world. It's a telling story that's hard to visualize and engage a reader to the point of full involvement.