Coffee Will Make You Black

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

COFFEE WILL MAKE YOU BLACK is a sound debut for a new writer as Sinclair. The story generates interest quickly and continues to engage the reader easily. Readers progress with the protagonist, Stevie, from confusion to self-realization in her turbulent world of sexual development and racial revolution. Stevie is a character who is entirely believable because she succumbs to the immense social pressures of others. Out of these yieldings, however, she slowly recognizes her own voice and ultimately stands her ground. This rejection of other people’s opinions and refusal to follow the crowd mindlessly is the crucial point of Stevie’s story.

The novel is laced with anecdotes in which the heroine stands alone as the single opposing opinion to the wrongful actions of the masses. In one example, she questions the way black girls compare the skin color on each other’s arms, criticizing the darkest while praising the fairest.

The novel contains an interesting mix of personal and historical events. Episodes in which Stevie stands up to her mother and defines for herself a new version of womanhood is placed alongside an episode where the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. sets off violent protests at Stevie’s high school. Stevie’s discovery of her own sexuality and who her true friends are is intermingled with her dawning understanding of the differences between her relations with white people and those with black people around her. Universal...

(The entire section is 403 words.)