Everybody Come Alive
A Memoir in Essays
A dazzling memoir that explores what it means to become fully alive and holy when we embrace the silenced stories we’ve inherited—from the creator of Black Coffee with White Friends.
“Marcie Alvis Walker writes with an honesty that is both dauntless and compassionate.”—Cole Arthur Riley, author of This Here Flesh
In her debut book, Everybody Come Alive, Marcie Alvis Walker invites readers into a deeply intimate and illuminating memoir comprising lyrical essays and remembrances of being a curious child of the seventies and eighties, raised under the critical and watchful eye of Jim Crow matriarchs who struggled to integrate their lives and remain whole.
While swimming in rivers of racial trauma and racial reckoning, Alvis Walker explores her earliest memories—of abandonment and erasure, of her mother’s mental illness and incarceration, and of her ongoing struggles with perfectionism and body dysmorphia—in hopes of leaving a healed and whole legacy for her own child. Nostalgic but unflinching, candid yet tender, Everybody Come Alive is an invitation to be vulnerable along with the author as she unravels all the beauty and terror of God, race, and gender’s imprint on her life.
This is a coming-of-age journey touching on the bittersweet pain and joy of what it takes to become a person who embraces being Black, a woman, and holy in America. Alvis Walker’s unforgettable writing challenges readers to not only see and hold her story as being fully human, but also to see and hold their own stories too.
Black Coffee with White Friends blogger Walker examines her relationship to family, race, and religion in this achingly beautiful debut. When the author was five, her mother drove her five children to their grandparents' house in a suburb outside Cleveland and left them there, ostensibly so they would go to better schools. But, "to this day, in many ways, I'm still waiting for my mother to come back for me," muses Walker, who grew up bouncing between her grandparents' mostly white suburban community and her mother's all-Black Cleveland neighborhood. Though her mother taught her to love her Blackness ("Everything in neighborhood was dark and beautiful"), Walker endured soul-crushing racism at school, and as she grew up, her mother's mental illness further strained the relationship between the two. When Walker was in her 20s, her mother was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison. Walker writes of drawing strength from her faith as she struggled with anger and guilt ("I wish I could have saved her from all of it. But I am her daughter, not her savior") and worked to come to terms with her mother's outcome and her own identity. Walker's gift is her soaring imagination and lyrical prose, which is reminiscent of a church lament—a song "sung like a wailing prayer, like a siren song to the heavenly host." This captivates.