• Three Girls from Bronzeville

  • A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood
  • By: Dawn Turner
  • Narrated by: Janina Edwards
  • Length: 11 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Biographies & Memoirs, Women
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (105 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A “beautiful, tragic, and inspiring” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) memoir about three Black girls from the storied Bronzeville section of Chicago that offers a penetrating exploration of race, opportunity, friendship, sisterhood, and the powerful forces at work that allow some to flourish…and others to falter. 

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

These third-generation daughters of the Great Migration come of age in the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It has offered them a promise, albeit nascent and fragile, that they will have more opportunities, rights, and freedoms than any generation of Black Americans in history. Their working-class, striving parents are eager for them to realize this hard-fought potential. But the girls have much more immediate concerns: hiding under the dining room table and eavesdropping on grown folks’ business, collecting secret treasures, and daydreaming about their futures - Dawn and Debra, doctors; Kim, a teacher. 

For a brief, wondrous moment, the girls are all giggles and dreams and promises of “friends forever”. And then fate intervenes, first slowly and then dramatically, sending them careening in wildly different directions. There’s heartbreak, loss, displacement, and even murder. Dawn struggles to make sense of the shocking turns that consume her sister and her best friend, all the while asking herself a simple but profound question: Why? 

In the vein of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Three Girls from Bronzeville is a piercing memoir that chronicles Dawn’s attempt to find answers. It’s at once a celebration of sisterhood and friendship, a testimony to the unique struggles of Black women, and a tour de force about the complex interplay of race, class, and opportunity, and how those forces shape our lives and our capacity for resilience and redemption.

©2021 Dawn Turner. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

A New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book

A Best Book of 2021 by BuzzFeed and Real Simple 

What listeners say about Three Girls from Bronzeville

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
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Captivating, in a Every-Day-Life Way

I found this book to be very captivating, not in an action way, I wasn't at the edge of my seat at any time, but in a normal, every day life way. When you lean in with your friend and they tell you a very personal story, kinda way.
They picked the right story teller, her voice is smooth and comforting, it's as if it is her own.
I couldn't put the audio away I started, what 2 days ago, and I wrapped it up already.
I found it relatable, even though we are worlds a part and found myself teary eyed, like her aunt Doris. Yet, at times I also chuckled. I am grateful to the author for sharing her story.

2 people found this helpful

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Too many words

This is a worthwhile story to hear, but there’s too much mundane detail that doesn’t move the book forward. I was left also with questions about one character that I wish the author, a reporter, had dug into.

1 person found this helpful

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Moving And Inspiring

Beautifully written ~ the true story of two sisters and their best friend coming of age on Chicago’s South Side. Narration is fantastic.

1 person found this helpful

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Awesome

Usually when I read or in this case listen to a book it usually leaves me wondering what happened to the characters…. Not this book! It made me feel like I was building a relationship with the characters. I really enjoyed this audio book!!

1 person found this helpful

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Academic

Narration was monotoned and lifeless. The storyline was nothing extraordinary. Really struggled to finish listening to this.

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A must read

Any woman of any color that grew up in the 40s, 50s, or 60s will be able to connect with the Three Girls from Bronzeville. Heartbreaking and heartwarming. Do yourself a big favor and listen to this story of growing up.

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Unsettling and captivating, all at once

This book reads like a novel which at times is hard to hear with the challenges and difficulties these three girls faced, but it's a powerful story of a time and place that represents a slice of the Black experience. You'll be captivated and sad when it's over.

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Fulfilling in every way

I’m embarrassed to admit that in spite of her exceptional accomplishments and status as a journalist & author, I wasn’t familiar with Dawn Turner prior to reading this book. Now I cannot wait to dig into her other work!
This book was the whole package for me: A poignant story of home and the bonds that come from growing up together, masterfully written with heart and skill. Ms. Turner’s descriptive language is second to none! With it, she created such a sensory rich experience for me, the reader/listener, that the story of these three women will forever be with me. And I’m glad of it!
Gratitude and admiration to Janina Edwards, Narrator, whose talent did justice to this wonderful book.

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Well Told, Well Read

I enjoyed this story a lot. It was quite an introspection on life choices and where they can take a person. It was also a reflection on second chances. The narrator had a soothing voice and did an excellent portrayal of all of the characters. I would recommend this book!

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Excellent !!

The details of the landscape and neighborhood are so dead on. I grew up in this area , and it took me back . The stories our parents told us about their early days in what is now known as Bronzeville came to life. The writer and narrator were successful in making this listener feel every emotion of the characters.