BERTICE BERRY, Ph.D., is a highly-sought-after motivational speaker to women’s groups, book clubs, and Fortune 500 corporations. She is the author of the novels Redemption Song, The Haunting of Hip Hop, Jim and Louella’s Homemade Heart-Fix Remedy, and When Love Calls, You Better Answer. She lives in Richmond Hill, Georgia.
THE TIES THAT BIND
A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption
Broadway – February 3, 2009
When novelist Bertice Berry set out to write a history of her family, she initially believed she’d uncover a story of slavery and black pain, but the deeper she dug, the more surprises she found. There was heartache, yes, but also something unexpected: hope. Peeling away the layers, Berry came to learn that the history of slavery cannot be quantified in simple, black-and-white terms of “good” and “evil” but is rather a complex tapestry of roles and relations, of choices and individual responsibility.
In this poignant, reflective memoir, Berry skillfully relays the evolution of relations between the races, from slavery to Reconstruction, from the struggles of the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power 1970s, and on to the present day. In doing so, she sheds light on a picture of the past that not only liberates but also unites and evokes the need to forgive and be forgiven.
Praise for THE TIES THAT BIND
“Berry explores her personal journey of broader racial understanding since she wrote the novel Redemption Song in 2000. Despite her mother’s stories to the contrary, Berry insisted on portraying an evil slave master based on a real man, John Hunn, who owned the farm where her great-grandfather worked. When she learned that Hunn had actually helped runaway slaves, Berry was forced to reexamine many of her ideas on race, acknowledging a race pride that had evolved into arrogance and an arrogance that had evolved into exclusion. Berry ponders the long journey from slavery to emancipation and the notion of freedom as something that is mental and emotional as well as physical. Interspersing her family’s history with that of the broader African American population, Berry writes of getting past the bitterness of poverty and racism to appreciate the complexities of American slavery and the need to present more nuanced and balanced portraits of race relations.”—Booklist
“Berry’s competently researched book, with its sprinklings of history, folklore and scripture along with a motivational thrust (We are all born with a purpose, a journey that must be completed), provide an accessible, readable introduction for others ‘saddened…that none of this history had been made part of my education.’“—Publishers Weekly
“Following a great deal of research and introspection, the author has created a positive book that spotlights family bonding and personal emancipation. ‘When we remember our ancestors and their stories,’ she notes, ‘we light a pathway for our own journey to spiritual, emotional, and intellectual freedom.’ Berry continues to demonstrate an uncanny aptitude for weaving African-American history into entertaining, empowering stories both fictional and personal.”—Kirkus Reviews
“I still miss the Bertice Berry Show. It was on for just one season in 1993, but Berry tried to give viewers a talk show with sense. Many of her fans will enjoy The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption. You never know what will turn up when you look through the skeletons in your family’s closet, and Berry finds a humdinger. While retracing her family’s past, she discovers their startling connection to John Hunn, the nineteenth-century Delaware abolitionist who not only transported thousands of escaped slaves to freedom as an organizer of the Underground Railroad, but also provided shelter and food to many of the slaves he helped. The revelation leads to a surprise ending you’ll find as engrossing as the plots in Berry’s fiction.”—Essence
WHEN LOVE CALLS, YOU BETTER ANSWER
Broadway – June 14, 2005
Full of spirit and wisdom, the novels of Bertice Berry bring to life a rich tapestry of human experience. Now she turns her eye to matters of the heart, with an endearing main character who can’t seem to keep bad men out of her life.
Bernita Brown is a quick-thinking, tireless social worker who is good at practically everything—except love. Her first marriage ends in divorce, a painful experience Bernita refuses to think about. Instead, she dives into a series of sad relationships and overwhelming commitments to community and church. But not even church can keep her from being courted by dogs; Bernita’s married pastor begins making passes at her, then blames her for his backsliding. Along the way, the ghost of Bernita’s aunt Babe weighs in with plenty of advice (after all, Aunt Babe says, “You don’t need to be alive to tell folks how to live”). When a marvelous man finally enters Bernita’s life, only time can tell whether she will be able to trust him.
Written with Berry’s signature warmth and reliance on African-American ancestors who deliver homespun healing, When Love Calls, You Better Answer addresses a host of powerful topics, from abusive relationships to corrupt church leaders. Ultimately, Bernita’s story will inspire readers to find the love they need, especially the love that can only come from within.
Praise for WHEN LOVE CALLS, YOU BETTER ANSWER
“An inspirational tale.”—Ebony
“A folksy, feel-good little novel…sentimentally delightful.”—Publishers Weekly
“Breakthrough…Many will identify.”—Kirkus Reviews
“When Love Calls, You Better Answer is true testament to faith and forgiveness. I fell in love with it from the first page! This witty and wise narrative invites readers to digest time-honored truisms. Ms. Berry is sure to satisfy the literary souls of both new and old fans.”—Norma L. Jarrett, author of Sweet Magnolia
JIM & LOUELLA’S HOMEMADE HEART-FIX REMEDY
Doubleday – August 13, 2002
A sizzling, smart, and utterly engaging novel about sex, love, folklore, and family history from the author of Redemption Song and The Haunting of Hip Hop.
Told from wisdom’s perspective, Jim and Louella’s Homemade Heartfix Remedy knocks down fear and shame with truth so that love will be manifested. With help from the deceased matriarchs in her life—her mother, Aunt T, and Grandma Sadie, Louella heals her marriage to Jim with one basic recipe for love. After resurrecting their love lost in between twenty-six years of marriage, Jim and Louella Johnson, suddenly begin to tap into their intuitive powers, uncontrollably reading the minds and seeing the souls of their community members and neighbors, and become overwhelmed with the desire to spread their love. Jim and Louella’s love becomes so infectious that many others in their southern town of Savannah crave it. Despite the heartache that so much knowledge can bring, they eagerly share their gifts and manage to awaken a loving heart in the mean town librarian, bring forgiveness to Mr. Blue, a child abuser who was abused himself as a child, teach self-love to a former prostitute, and pave the way down love’s highway for so many others. Jim and Louella illuminate so much love throughout their small town that people flock to Jim and Louella’s door for more lessons on loving.
Through it all, readers will see how marvelously, Berry creates the rekindled love between an older couple, and uses it as a springboard by which we watch them become catalysts for the healing of hearts in their southern town. Come aboard and take an adventurous ride of truth with love as the destination.
Praise for JIM & LOUELLA’S HOMEMADE HEART-FIX REMEDY
“An entertaining narrative and a parable of love.”—Publishers Weekly
“Berry has written another thought-provoking and entertaining novel about love and the power of the heart.”—Booklist
“Hot, hot, hot! That’s the quickest way to describe Jim & Louella’s Homemade Heart-Fix Remedy, a bawdy, romantic comic novel that breaks all the rules of the typical love story.”—Dallas Morning News
“Berry’s breakthrough? Could be.”—Kirkus Reviews
THE HAUNTING OF HIP HOP
Doubleday – January 9, 2001
Bertice Berry follows her finely pitched Blackboard bestselling debut novel, Redemption Song, with a mesmerizing cautionary tale about urban hip hop culture.
In ancient West Africa, the drum was more than a musical instrument, it was a vehicle of communication-it conveyed information, told stories, and passed on the wisdom of generations. The magic of the drum remains alive in Africa today, and with her magnificent second novel, Berry brings those powerful beats to the streets of Harlem.
Harry “Freedom” Hudson is the hottest hip-hop producer in New York City, earning unbelievable fees for his tunes and the innovative sound that puts his artists on the top of the charts. Harry is used to getting what he wants, so when he’s irresistibly drawn to a house in Harlem, he assumes he’ll be moving in as soon as the papers can be drawn up. The house, after all, has been abandoned for years. Or has it?
Rumors are rife in the neighborhood that the house is haunted; that mysterious music, shouts, and sobbing can be heard late at night. Ava, Harry’s strong-willed, no-nonsense agent, dismisses it all as “old folks” tales-until she opens the door and finds an eerie, silent group of black people, young and old, all gathered around a man holding an ancient African drum. They are waiting for Harry and bear a warning that touches his very soul: “We gave the drum back to your generation in the form of rap, but it’s being used to send the wrong message.”
The Haunting of Hip Hop is a reminder of the importance of honoring the past as a means of moving safely and firmly into the future. It is sure to raise eyebrows and stir up controversy about the impact, good and bad, of rap culture.
Praise for THE HAUNTING OF HIP HOP
“A nimble social commentator, Berry wisely eschews clichés and delivers a powerful story with a message that should not be lost.“—Essence
“In this poignant and educational ‘ghost’ story, Berry drives home the importance of making sure the richness of ancient Africa’s drums lives in the music today.“—Heart & Soul
“This interesting novel is sure to give young adults something to think and talk about.”—Booklist
“There’s a lot of fun here…[Bertice Berry] is a writer to watch.”—Dallas Morning News
“The Haunting of Hip Hop offers poignant commentary on hip hop’s failure (and potential) to change the world through ‘the drum.’”—Detroit Times
Doubleday – January 18, 2000
In her fiction debut, comedian and inspirational speaker Bertice Berry has written a spiritual love story that will seep into your bones and remain with you long after the last page has been turned. Redemption Song is a marvelous story about love, the importance of understanding one’s history, and the power of books and how they can influence your life.
Josephine “Fina” Chambers and Ross Buchanan meet in Black Images, a small African American bookshop, as they both reach for a rare copy of a slave woman’s “memory book.” Each refuses to let go of the book until the wise and spirited owner, Miss Cozy, negotiates a deal. Over the next several days, they will read the slave woman’s book together in the comfort of the bookstore. In the process, Ross and Fina will realize that the path to their shared future may be linked to something that happened more than a century ago…
Praise for REDEMPTION SONG
“A love song to book lovers and booksellers everywhere!“—E. Lynn Harris, author of Abide With Me
“A sparkling, heartfelt debut and a compelling read.“—Connie Briscoe, author of Sisters and Lovers, Big Girls Don’t Cry, and A Long Way Home
“A simple love story to drive home the importance of understanding one’s history…The reading is fun and entertaining but also enlightening. Berry can now add accomplished novelist to her list of talents.”—USA Today
“Iona and Joe are marvelous creations.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Compelling…thought-provoking…Filled with life lessons wrapped in mother wit and family lore.”—Dallas Morning News
“A tender love story that spans generations…Redemption Song leaves you wanting more.”—The Orlando Sentinel
“Comedian and inspirational speaker Berry makes a tear-tugging fiction debut with this slim romantic fable about connections across generations.“—Publishers Weekly
“A pleasant change from the formulaic and cloned reality-romances…Berry presents a love story that is intellectually and spiritually stimulating.”—Today’s Black Woman
I’M ON MY WAY BUT YOUR FOOT IS ON MY HEAD
A Black Woman’s Story of Getting Over Life’s Hurdles
Fireside – July 9, 1997
Originally published as Bertice: The World According to Me (Scribner – February 20, 1996)
Bertice Berry was born into a world that was far from promising. Her mother was an alcoholic, her family trapped for generations in a cycle of poverty and abuse. Propelled by her dreams, Berry broke the cycle and became a prominent media figure. In I’m On My Way But Your Foot is On My Head, she uses her own life as a backdrop to teach others how to find their purpose and live it. Without preaching, Berry sets the reader on a path toward empowerment. She points out that in order to break the cycles of the past, you must uncover them and understand how they have affected you. Only then will you be free to move forward and achieve your full potential.
Praise for I’M ON MY WAY BUT YOUR FOOT IS ON MY HEAD
“One cannot meet Bertice Berry and not be moved and uplifted by her brilliance, compassion, and sweetness of spirit. Her life is an inspiration and testament to the transforming power of faith and tenacity.”—Susan Taylor, editor in chief, Essence magazine
“Bertice reminds us of the power of determination, the beauty of dreams, and the illuminating joy of laughter. Here’s to staying in the race!”—Terrie M. Williams, author of The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today’s Fast-Paced Business World
“Dr. Bertice hasn’t just put her finger on the pulse of a dream but opened her heart on the soul of that dream. She’s bright, insightful, and almost as funny and beautiful as I am!”—Mother Love, author and radio and television personality
“Spirited, sassy and heartfelt.”—Publishers Weekly