Cover image for Maggie's American dream : the life and times of a Black family
Maggie's American dream : the life and times of a Black family
Comer, James P.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin, [1989]

Physical Description:
xxiv, 228 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Plume book."
Reading Level:
820 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.0 11.0 10128.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.1 13 Quiz: 19823 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.97.C68 C66 1988C Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This inspiring black family success story centers on an exceptional woman, Maggie Comer, whose American dream brought her from abject poverty in the rural South to become the mother of five outstanding achievers. Told first through Maggie's own words, then through those of her son James - an award-winning child psychiatrist and brilliant educator - Maggie's American Dream is an unforgettable chronicle of courage and resourcefulness, of pride and achievement, of daring to dream despite the odds. Book jacket.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A renowned educator and child psychiatrist provides an intimate glimpse into the inspirational struggle of a remarkable black family. Determined to offer her offspring a brighter future, Comer's mother escaped a life of poverty and abuse in the deep South. Though virtually illiterate, Maggie Comer defied racial stereotypes by providing her children with the confidence and the will to succeed in white America. A convincing testament to the efficacy of education as well as a significantly positive contribution to the sociological analysis of the black family in America. MF.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Maggie's eldest child, the first of her five offspring to achieve advanced degrees, here remembers three generations of his black American family. Resurrecting the tradition of oral family history, Comer, a child psychiatrist, transcribes his mother's reminiscences. She was born in Mississippi in 1904 and matured in an extended sharecropping family, struggling against rampant poverty and racism. Her indomitable spirit, pride and financial acumen would later provide her own children a standard of living unusually high for most blacks and many whites of the Depression years. Interesting contrast is provided in the book's second part by the autobiographical account of the author's formative years. Descriptions of his gentle father's intolerable working conditions at a steel mill, which led to his premature death, are heartbreaking. As the author shows, the quest for personal honor, intellectual excellence and economic success in our bigoted society remains the most valued parental legacy of Maggie's children. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This poignant book is several stories: the oral history of the struggles of a black mother who saw education as the road to the American dream and propelled her five children to 13 college degrees; the autobiography of a son who credits his mother with his becoming one of America's foremost specialists on the role of social problems in mental health; and proof that social commitment can help solve problems in black communities. More than the document of a single family, this book encapsulates the black South-to-North movement, from days of segregation to days of flickering hope. Highly recommended for Afro-American and American social history collections. Thomas J. Davis, SUNY at Buffalo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Charlayne Hunter-Gault
Forewordp. xiii
Introductionp. xix
Part I Momp. 1
Part II My Turnp. 103
Part III All Our Childrenp. 185
Postscript: Maggie's American Dreamp. 227