We Are Bridges

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UPC: 9781952177927
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Authors: Cassandra Lane
  • Publisher : The Feminist Press at CUNY (April 20, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 232 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1952177928
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1952177927

"In this evocative memoir, Cassandra Lane deftly uses the act of imagination to reclaim her ancestors’ story as a backdrop for telling her own. The tradition of Black women’s storytelling leaps forward within these pages—into fresh, daring, and excitingly new territory." —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis

When Cassandra Lane finds herself pregnant at thirty-five, the knowledge sends her on a poignant exploration of memory to prepare for her entry into motherhood. She moves between the twentieth-century rural South and present-day Los Angeles, reimagining the intimate life of her great-grandparents Mary Magdelene Magee and Burt Bridges, and Burt's lynching at the hands of vengeful white men in his southern town.

We Are Bridges turns to creative nonfiction to reclaim a family history from violent erasure so that a mother can gift her child with an ancestral blueprint for their future. Haunting and poetic, this debut traces the strange fruit borne from the roots of personal loss in one Black family—and considers how to take back one’s American story.


“We Are Bridges makes a stunning contribution to what must become our collective memory.” —NPR

“In this narrative, Lane seeks an origin story, searching for what facts are available and wondering about the legacy she is passing on. . . . A multiangled exploration of family trauma and the forging of an identity.” Kirkus Reviews

“An exceptional memoir of self-discovery through family histories.” Foreword Reviews (starred review)

“Lane explores the ways the past informs the present—and how to beautifully reclaim it.” —The Millions

"In this evocative memoir, Cassandra Lane deftly uses the act of imagination to reclaim her ancestors’ story as a backdrop for telling her own. She renders each interior life with such tenderness and toughness that the tradition of black women’s storytelling leaps forward within these pages—into fresh, daring, and excitingly new territory. Lane’s compelling voice couldn’t be more timely." —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World according to Fannie Davis 

“Cassandra Lane writes with the urgency driven to the page by the necessities of that first great art: motherhood. We Are Bridges is a book of history, and as such, it uncovers and recovers the truths no classroom teacher will ever reveal to the children who need to know them most: ‘Let the dead bury the dead, Jesus said, but here I am: guilty of pining after my dead. Not knowing one’s story is like being buried alive.’ More than that, it is a love story, a book of how—in spite of every obstacle—black people still make themselves vulnerable enough to take the leap and fall in (and survive!) love.” —Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition

"Cassandra Lane approaches motherhood, generational trauma, and hope (and fear) for the future from a multitude of angles in a personal story that is utterly captivating. Her writing is beautiful and truly embraces readers." —Jennifer Baker, editor of Everyday People

We Are Bridges is a gorgeous memoir that knits together the past and present with Cassandra Lane’s fierce and beautiful prose. Each sentence pulls readers through the generations, like a song with haunting lyrics. Lane shows us that family—black family—is a blazing kaleidoscope of legacy and memory, reflections illuminated by this talented writer’s acuity and tenderness.” —Dana Johnson, author of Elsewhere, California 

“This powerful, beautifully written memoir serves to remind us that our yesterdays need not limit our tomorrows, but that our path forward is forever linked to our history.” —Norman Aladjem, author of From Me to You

“In We Are Bridges, Cassandra Lane boldly investigates the connections between transgenerational trauma, personal love, and the burden of memory. Her heartfelt memoir will stay with you.” —YZ Chin, author of Though I Get Home

We Are Bridges considers all that feeds or fails to feed motherhood. Throughout, Lane weaves personal and historical geographies, lineages, upbringings, and upheavals into a complete tapestry validating her glorious existence as a Black mother. Lane’s finger, aimed at herself, digs her introspection so deep that what becomes devastated are all the false notions that limit and confound Blackness, growth, parenting. We Are Bridges is Lane’s lifelong walk with responsibility, with risk, and most of all—with love. It reminds readers that motherhood is never merely witnessing, but a constant testimony of love. And what we beget into this world, what we truly love, is forever linked to a history of liberation.” —F. Douglas Brown, author of Zero to Three

"In We are Bridges, Cassandra Lane stretches the boundaries of traditional memoir, incorporating aspects of the unknowable past so as to best illuminate how imagination and speculation color and deepen our truths. This is an important, beautiful work.” —Lolis Eric Elie, former columnist for the Times-Picayune 

“Cassandra Lane has written the book we need now more than ever. Part love story, part historical memoir, We Are Bridges explores a legacy of inherited trauma in the context of the author’s complicated path toward motherhood. I was engrossed every step of the way.” —Brenda Miller, author of An Earlier Life

"In We Are Bridges, Cassandra Lane expertly weaves together personal history, the pain and wonder of inheritance, and a vision of motherhood most infinite. As people reach toward one another, eager to feel understood, it's often a book that connects them, so this one feels aptly titled and fully realized. Lane is an honest and unflinching guide, tenderly urging the essential questions: Who are we? Who can we be?" —Michelle Franke, executive director of PEN America Los Angeles 

“Cassandra Lane writes like a dream. We Are Bridges is a haunting, absorbing, lyrical, sad, beautiful, and necessary book as we begin to acknowledge the tangible and intangible costs of hundreds of years of slavery.” —Debra Monroe, author of On the Outskirts of Normal 

“In pages both lyrical and evocative, Lane paints a world in which the agonies experienced by earlier generations continue down to the current day; and yet, in the act of creation and empathy, she brings readers and her family into a realm of not quite forgiveness, but reluctant acceptance and awe.” —Bernadette Murphy, author of Harley and Me

“Cassandra Lane's We Are Bridges is a groundbreaking, lyrical patchwork of historical research, imagined pasts and futures, and personal narrative that tethers together multiple generations of the Bridges family, multiple generations of trauma borne from slavery, and multiple simultaneous truths. We Are Bridges is a story that has not yet been told and one that many will feel in their bones.” —KaeLyn Rich, author of Girls Resist!

“In We Are Bridges, Cassandra Lane has written a haunting, lyrical narrative about love, motherhood, and generational trauma, confronting painful truths about her past, her present, and her future. Lane writes with the heart of a poet and the pen of a seasoned journalist as she tells her story with a haunting passion I will never forget. An extraordinary accomplishment.” —Elizabeth L. Silver, author of The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

"Lane weaves a moving and immense narrative of healing intergenerational violence through reportage, witnessing, memory, exhuming the dead, and moving on. Her work illuminates Louise Meriwether's legacy with love and grit. A tour de force filled with the immensity of hope." —Lis P. Sipin-Gabon, editor and cofounder of TAYO Literary Magazine

About the Author

Cassandra Lane is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Lane received her MFA from Antioch University LA. Her stories have appeared in the New York Times's Conception series, the Times-Picayune, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and elsewhere. She is managing editor of L.A. Parent magazine and formerly served on the board of the AROHO Foundation.