Today’s book is an engaging memoir that includes not only a fascinating childhood and coming-of-age in the deep south and the Oakland projects, but also involvement in some of the most important happenings of the mid-20th century. Davis writes like she is talking to a friend; her voice is a highlight of the book.
But Davis does assume knowledge of the events she covers during her career, so this book will work best for teens interested in a first-person perspective on a time period they have already studied, or those willing to read about her life without always knowing the bigger picture. And of course, it may inspire young readers to learn more about the events involved, from anti-Vietnam War campus demonstrations, the Patty Hearst kidnapping, emergence of the Black Panthers, early days of the AIDS epidemic, assassination of Harvey Milk, and much more.
DAVIS, Belva & Vicki Haddock. Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism. 272p. PoliPoint. 2011. Tr $24.95. ISBN 978-1-936227-06-8. LC 2010048995.
Adult/High School–Davis is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most beloved public television reporters. Her insightful interviews have won her national acclaim, and she has been an anchor for CBS, NBC and PBS, where she currently hosts the news show, “This week in Northern California.” Even though Davis rose through the ranks to become the first black, female reporter west of the Mississippi, she relates the events of her life with a humility that exposes her unease with being in the spotlight. Growing up a neglected good girl in the early 1930s, she dreamed of a life outside her narrow world and abusive family. Even though she was forced to abandon her dreams of college, she found her niche within the world of news. As a young journalist, she positioned herself at the center of some of the 20th century’s most important events, including the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. This book is easily accessible to a teen audience, but unfortunately many of the historical events that impacted Davis’s life are not supported with back-story. Still, it is recommended for teens who enjoy reading about history, hardship, or success stories. The author faced down racism in both her career and personal life, and teens will be fascinated to learn how she moved from the poorest neighborhoods in Louisiana and California into the spotlight as the articulate, insightful reporter she is today. Her story will inspire readers to overcome obstacles, dream big, and work hard for those dreams. –Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA