For somebody to move forward in their life, they must first go backwards by looking into their past and seeing how that has shaped them into who they are now, according to author and journalist Dawn Turner.
The book follows Turner’s life growing up in Bronzeville alongside her sister, Kim Turner, and Dawn’s childhood best friend, Debra Trice. Turner spoke to the audience about the impact of these childhood friendships, the writing process for this book and the significance of growing up in the Bronzeville neighborhood.”To understand what will happen to us, you must first understand the place that shaped us,” Turner said.
“Three Girls from Bronzeville” follows Turner, Kim and Debra throughout their childhoods and into their adult–life, a period when all three girls began to lead separate lives. “Growing up is scary, but not as scary as growing apart,” said Turner. “I was haunted by the paths we each took.”
As well as the effects these relationships had on her life, Turner also talks about the living conditions in Bronzeville and how many were affected by gentrification and the lack of affordable housing.
“We were all the same people, but the conditions we were living in were very different,” said Turner.
Turner said that while she had decent living conditions growing up, people who lived as close as across the street from her, were not so lucky. “There was no fence but clearly a divide,” said Turner.
Turner also talked about the writing process for this book and how it came with an amount of emotional distress. The process began in 2010, but she didn’t begin writing until 2018 and then it took two years to finish.
“I would write one sentence and have to walk a mile,” said Turner. This stress, as well as having her book turned down by her editor at one point, made the writing process for this book a difficult one.
Turner said the biggest takeaway from her book should be the impact that the relationships from childhood have on a person for the rest of their lives. “We took different paths, but we were always connected,” said Turner about Kim and Debra. Turner also said that Bronzeville is a community that has a “rich legacy” and has influenced her a lot, but people will never truly understand its atmosphere.
“The country will think it knows everything about our neighborhood, about us. But they won’t. They can’t possibly know,” said Turner.