The Blackwoods

The Blackwoods
Age Range
Release Date
October 03, 2023
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From Boston Globe/Horn Book Award–winning author Brandy Colbert comes the story of four generations of a Hollywood family—an unforgettable tale of ambition, fame, struggle, loss, and love in America.

The Blackwoods. Everyone knows their name. Blossom Blackwood burst onto the silver screen in 1962, and in the decades that followed, she would become one of the most celebrated actors of our time—and the matriarch of the most famous Black family in Hollywood. To her great-granddaughters, Hollis and Ardith, she has always just been Bebe. And when she passes away, it changes everything. Hollis Blackwood was never interested in fame. Still, she’s surrounded by it, whether at home with her family or at the prestigious Dupree Academy among Los Angeles’ elite.

When private photos of Hollis are leaked in the wake of Blossom’s death, she is thrust into the spotlight she’s long avoided—and finds that trust may be a luxury even she can’t afford. Ardith Blackwood has always lived in the public eye. A television star since childhood, she was perhaps closer with Blossom than anyone—especially after Ardith’s mother died in a drug overdose. Ever since, she has worked to be everything her family, her church, and the public want her to be. But as a family secret comes to light and the pressures from all sides begin to mount, she wonders what is left beneath the face she shows the world.

Weaving together the narratives of Hollis, Ardith, and Blossom, award-winning author Brandy Colbert tells an unforgettable story set in an America where everything is personal, and nothing is private.   

Editor review

1 review
The Blackwoods in Hollywood
(Updated: November 19, 2023)
Overall rating
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THE BLACKWOODS by Brandy Colbert is both a YA Contemporary and Historical Fiction with multi-POVs, mainly between Blossom Blackwood and her two great-granddaughters, Hollis and Ardith. Blossom, through her hard work and perseverance, made a name for herself, and subsequently her family, but it wasn’t without many difficulties and tough decisions along the way. In the present day, as both Hollis and Ardith have their own struggles in the public eye, they can’t deny the space their grandmother carved out for them as Black women.

What I absolutely appreciate about Colbert’s writing is every time the POV switches, each subsequent storyline is unique and compelling, and I wanted to know what would happen next for everyone. I also love how we got to see Blossom’s path during her time intercut with Hollis and Ardith today. The two different timelines provided not only a good opportunity for contrast and comparison, but it was also fun to take a step back in history and experience Blossom’s life through her eyes. Her chapters are my favorite.

Many stories centered around Hollywood starlets often show them as out-of-touch or deeply damaged, but The Blackwoods are such a breath of fresh air in that they are normal people in an abnormal situation, all on a journey of self-discovery. Alongside that, Colbert expertly weaves many themes through the narrative, such as race, class, religion, and gender, and does a great job at making her primary setting, Los Angeles, come alive. There are some elements of the Michael storyline that feel as though they happen for plot convenience, and the chapters are on the longer side for a YA book, so there are fewer stopping points, but overall, THE BLACKWOODS is a well-written, enjoyable novel, sure to appeal to readers who want a bit of Old Hollywood Glamour, mixed with modern day celebrity culture and a whole lot of heart!
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