I’m thrilled to have Amena Brown at the cafe today. I’ve had the privilege of following Amena on social media and learning more about who she is as a poet and woman of Christ. Amena is inspiring women of color, writers, and women to live their best life through who we are through Jesus Christ.
I had the pleasure of asking her a few questions on her new book, How to Fix a Broken Record.
What was the inspiration for How to Fix a Broken Record?
How to Fix a Broken Record was inspired by three things: my thirties, my love for music, and a conversation with my dad. I was talking with my dad during a difficult time for our family and something about our conversation brought to my mind some negative messages I had about myself. In my conversation, I realized those messages I believed about myself weren’t true, but I’d been living my life for so long as if they were true. I love music so the idea of these negative messages in my soul made me think of the sound a record makes when it’s broken. It repeats the same sound. It’s annoying, but that’s how we know we need to listen to a different record. The first few years of my thirties have been a season of discovering and healing from my broken records. I thought this might be a message that many people would resonate with.
Why do you think How to Fix a Broken Record is necessary?
This is a book of stories that I’ve experienced and I think it’s necessary to tell our stories. When we share our story it can give someone else the courage to share their story too. It can make us laugh, help us heal, encourage us to remember. I hope this book helps readers to trust that God can truly fix and heal our broken records.
How did writing How to Fix a Broken Record change or inform your perspective on your own faith journey?
I’ve spent part of my faith journey feeling like I should try to be like someone else and writing this book taught me the importance of being exactly who God created me to be. The journey of writing this book reminded me to not allow my voice to be silenced and to not make myself small. Writing How to Fix a Broken Record also taught me to be vulnerable and reminded me to laugh and find joy. I cried some while writing this book but I also laughed a lot and I believe that is how life is. Grief sits next to joy, hope sits next to gratitude.
What do you hope are the main takeaways for your readers?
I hope the reader will find courage to be vulnerable and authentic. I hope the reader will tune their eyes and ears to see and hear God in all of life’s experiences from the extraordinary to the mundane. And I hope the reader will laugh out loud! I think we could all use more opportunities to do that.
Cisneros Cafe Book Review:
How to Fix a Broken Record teleported me back to the 80’s and 90’s. I suddenly missed my L.A. Gears and moonwalking on my grandma’s living room floor. When Amena took us into her story of finding a hair stylist and not using chemicals at home, it reminded me of how my grandmother longed for me to have a perm. Perms in Latina culture are not straighteners. On the contrary, when we get a perm, it makes our hair curly. The more powerful the solution, the more curly our hair becomes.
I remember my grandma once tried to give me a perm at home and it ended up burning my scalp and the nape of my neck. I looked like a brown poodle who had just got into a street fight. She was so proud but I knew she was scared to hurt me again. We visited Rosita’s Salon every other time after that for the next three years. Then, I graciously grew out of it (and so did grandma).
Amena touches on growing up with strong female role models, saving herself for marriage, dismantling the lies of “not good enough,” and choosing a great hair stylist amidst it all.
There is no rock bottom, no personal disaster, no amount of utter failure where Jesus doesn’t walk with us (Brown).
Amena interweaves the theme of hip hop songs and broken records throughout her book. As often as we fixate on what is wrong in our lives, it begins to sound much like a broken record. Amena’s attention to this universal idea of broken records leads us to find hope within these pages.
Sometimes God wants us to sit in relationship with Him more than he wants us to try to figure Him out. How to Fix a Broken Record takes us on a journey through Amena’s past to show us how those experiences helped shape who she is through the love of Jesus Christ.
God doesn’t write fairy tales, but he is always writing a good story (Brown).
You’ll want to pick up this book. It’s a perfect gift for friends and loved ones as they navigate their faith journey. I’m so glad I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It’s also been a real privilege to listen to her podcast and hearing the how these stories manifested. The podcasts episodes also continue the conversation from the book. It’s a real treasure. Check it out.
Amena Brown is an author, spoken word poet, speaker and event host. The author of five spoken word albums and two non-fiction books, How to Fix a Broken Record (2017)and Breaking Old Rhythms (2013). Amena performs and speaks at events from coffeehouses to arenas with a mix of poetry, humor, and storytelling. She and her husband, DJ Opdiggy, reside in Atlanta, Georgia.