Breena graduated from Howard University with Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1973.
Breena attended Columbia University.
(Five-year-old Clara Bynum is dead, drowned in the Potomac...)
Five-year-old Clara Bynum is dead, drowned in the Potomac River in the shadow of a seemingly haunted rock outcropping known locally as the Three Sisters. River, Cross My Heart, which marks the debut of a wonderfully gifted new storyteller, weighs the effect of Clara's absence on the people she has left behind: her parents, Alice and Willie Bynum, torn between the old world of their rural North Carolina home and the new world of the city, to which they have moved in search of a better life for themselves and their children; the friends and relatives of the Bynum family in the Georgetown neighborhood they now call home; and, most especially, Clara's sister, ten-year-old Johnnie Mae, who must come to terms with the powerful and confused emotions stirred by her sister's death as she struggles to decide what kind of woman she will become. This highly accomplished first novel resonates with ideas, impassioned lyricism, and poignant historical detail as it captures an essential part of the African-American experience in our century.
(Even though Sewing Annie Coats and her son, Gabriel, have...)
Even though Sewing Annie Coats and her son, Gabriel, have managed to buy their freedom, their lives are still marked by constant struggle and sacrifice. Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, where the Coatses operate a tailor's shop and laundry, is supposed to be a "promised land" for former slaves but is effectively a frontier town, gritty and dangerous, with no laws protecting black people. The remarkable emotional energy with which the Coatses wage their daily battles-as they negotiate with their former owner, as they assist escaped slaves en route to freedom, as they prepare for the encroaching war, and as they strive to love each other enough-is what propels STAND THE STORM and makes the novel's tragic denouement so devastating.
(Russell's Knob is not paradise. But already in 1849 this ...)
Russell's Knob is not paradise. But already in 1849 this New Jersey highlands settlement is home to a diverse population of blacks, whites, and reds who have intermarried and lived in relative harmony for generations. It is a haven for Dossie Bird, who has escaped north along the Underground Railroad and now feels the embrace of the Smoot family.
Breena graduated from Howard University with Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1973. She attended Columbia University.
Clarke's debut novel, River, Cross My Heart, was an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection, when the description stated:"This highly accomplished first novel resonates with ideas, impassioned lyricism, and poignant historical detail as it captures an essential part of the African-American experience in our century." The Publishers Weekly reviewer called it "a novel as lyric and alternately beguiling and confounding as its title... a haunting story", and the book spent a month on the New York Times bestseller list.
Clarke's second novel, Stand the Storm, was published in 2008, and Washington Post reviewer Gail Buckley said: "Breena Clarke has written another stirring work of historical fiction that weaves the passionate, dramatic and uplifting story of the African American aspiration for true freedom into the great American tapestry." Clarke's third novel, Angels Make Their Hope Here, published in 2014, also received favorable notices from such reviewers as Alan Cheuse at NPR's All Things Considered.
Breena married Walid Najeeb Harb, but they divorced in 1977. On April 14, 1986, she married Helmar Augustus Cooper, an actor. She had a son Najeeb Walid.