The Rib by Vanessa Bryant
If you are looking for a read that will help you feel seen and supported through your season of transition and change — this is it. Vanessa Byrant happens to be a friend of mine; we go to the same church. When I heard she had published a book, I immediately knew I needed to support. It’s one of the best $10 I’ve spent in a while.
Written as a series journal entries, The Rib explores themes of vulnerability and sisterhood in those times when we convince ourselves that we are most alone. Vanessa writes from the perspective of a wife and mother, chronicling experieces that span new motherhood to transitioning from a full-time career woman to a full-time stay-at-home mom and struggling with finding her purpose in the midst of self-doubt. However, even I, a very single and childless twenty-three year old was able to find inspiration and kinship in these pages.
In entry one, she writes,
“As women, we often feel that our individual identities have to be sacrificed for the roles we play in the lives of others. As I reached out to other women around me, I learned that so many were yearing for the same thing I was: to feel valued, to make a positive impact, and create the space in our lives for self-fulfilling activities while also excelling in our rols as wives and mothers.”the rib, pg. 15
While, I’m not a wife or a mother, I could strongly connect with the desire to create meaning and to feel valued as well as finding out that the women around me crave the same thing when I am vulerable and open with them about my life. I found meaning as Vanessa shares about creating and tending to her relationships with the intention of “creating a space where we all feel safe and comfortable expressing our emotions and unpacking our challenges with one another…letting all walls down and to be encouraging voices for one another” (pg. 34). I sat with those words for a moment and considered how I could show up in a better way for my friends and cultivate more spaces for us to be real with one another not only with our struggles but also with our successes. Perhaps we would have a more loving friendship dynamic with fewer petty offenses and hurt feelings if we felt more comfortable expressing our feelings to one another.
I recently had the immense pleasure of attending a live reading of The Rib, and Vanessa posed a powerful question as she began, “Why do we feel shame about the way we feel?” Vulnerability, being open and honest about our truth, is the key to not feeling so alone. It “create[s] a space for us to grow together” (pg. 26). In a very real sense, we need people. (*cue the end of the Ari Lennox track “New Apartment”). Being a part of a community allows us to realize that we are not alone.
Vanessa lives out her writing about being brave and vulnerable. The lovely cover art is by Deun Ivory of Black Girl in Om. (Yes — I squealed with excitement too). She reached out to inquire if they could collaborate, and the two of them created an image that so perfectly speaks to the center of this book — a woman laid bare and in bloom.
This book resonated with me even as Vanessa and I are in very different places. I immediately reached out to all my friends, urging them to pick up a copy before our girls trip at the end of the summer, and I even went to far as to gift my very best friend a copy for herself. My mom started reading it as well after my enthusiastic recommendation. I truly believe there’s something here for everyone. Grab a copy for yourself and be encouraged today.