What You Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell

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Los Angeles, l945: When Hosanna Clark, newly arrived from the farm fields of Texas, befriends Holocaust survivor Gilda Rosenstein, she opens the door to a new life for them both. Using Gilda's knowledge of cosmetics and Hosanna's energy and determination, they begin producing a line of lipsticks and lotions for black women. The two are more than partners: They are dear friends.

Then Gilda suddenly disappears, taking all the assets. Hosanna is doubly betrayed: financially ruined and emotionally bereft. When, years later, she passes away, her small cosmetics company dies with her. But Hosanna leaves behind a daughter steeped in her mother's pain: Matriece is as smart and driven as her mother and savvy enough to recognize that white firms are competing not only for black consumer dollars but for black professional talent as well. When Gilda's huge cosmetics conglomerate hires her to launch a line of black beauty products, Matriece takes on a mission to collect her mother's debt.

What You Owe Me is a stunning account of the changes we have seen in white attitudes toward blacks, but it is also a sensitive look at what betrayal-of friendship, of love-does to us all. Ultimately, it is a moving book about healing. As Emerge magazine acknowledged, "Campbell's writings are a beacon of light, helping assuage the anger by tending our deepest wounds."

About Bebe Moore Campbell

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Bebe Moore Campbell (b. 1950) is an award-winning author and a journalist. In her 1989 memoir, Sweet Summer: Growing up With and Without My Dad, she recalls living in Philadelphia with her mother during the school year and spending summers with her father in North Carolina. The book has been hailed for its bittersweet remembrances of a dual childhood and life in the South at the merge of the social revolution of the 1960s. Her other nonfiction includes Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two-Career Marriage (1986). She has written the novels Your Blues Ain't Like Mine (1992) and Brothers and Sisters (1994). Campbell has contributed nonfiction to Ms, Working Mother, Ebony, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Seventeen, Parents, and Glamour, and is a regular commentator for National Public Radio's Morning Edition. She earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She died from complications related to brain cancer on November 27, 2006.
Published January 1, 2001 by Recorded Books. 20 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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But she provides for her daughters Matriece and Vonette before a flash-forward reveals that Hosanna has died, although she remains a beneficent ghostly presence to Matriece, an up-and-coming marketing executive at Gilda’s million-dollar company, in charge of Brown Sugar, a new cosmetics line for ...

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Publishers Weekly

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When Hosanna tries a special lotion Gilda has made, she persuades Gilda to produce it for Hosanna to sell to local black women.

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Book Reporter

Torn between living a life that would please her mother and choosing her own happiness, Matriece begins to examine her past relationship with her mother and how it continues to shape her decisions.

Sep 03 2002 | Read Full Review of What You Owe Me

All About Romance

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Although most authors are advised to write what you know, it might be more appropriate to suggest they write what they feel.

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