What You Owe Me

Campbell, Bebe Moore. What You Owe Me. Read by Caroline Clay. New York: Recorded Books, 2001.

What You Owe Me begins in Los Angeles in 1945. Hosanna Clark is working as a hotel chambermaid when she meets Holocaust survivor, Gilda Rosenstein. Gilda and Hosanna become fast friends, bonded by their experiences with prejudice: Gilda for being a Jew and Hosanna for being African American. Once Gilda and Hosanna are bonded in friendship they embark on a business venture producing cosmetics for black women. Until suddenly, Gilda has disappeared taking every cent Hosanna put into the venture with her. This portion of the story is compact. The majority of the story focuses on these two women. Fast forward 40+ years. Hosanna is dead and Gilda is a successful business owner with a closet full of skeletons. This portion of the story is vast. Campbell sets out to juggle four or five different stories involving multiple relationships and families. There is a reason this book is over 500 pages long.

Reason read: October is breast cancer awareness month and even though Campbell did not pass away from breast cancer (she had a brain tumor), I decided to honor her all the same. Cancer is cancer is cancer in my book. Also,  Campbell died in November so I am allowing myself to keep this book longer than the month of October to honor her passing as well. Let’s face it, I needed the extra time to get through all 20 cds.

Author fact: Campbell won the NAACP Image Award.

Reader fact: Caroline Clay has appeared on “Law and Order.” As an aside, she can’t do accents like Russian very well!

Book Audio trivia: My copy of What You Owe Me was over 22 hours long because it also included an exclusive interview with Bebe Moore Campbell.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “African American Fiction: She Say” (p 12).



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