The Names of All the Flowers: A Memoir

Product Details
$17.95  $16.69
Feminist Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.0 X 0.7 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

Melissa Valentine is a writer from Oakland, CA. She earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MFA in creative writing from Mills College. She has been a fellow at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, and her work has appeared in Jezebel, Guernica, Apogee Journal, and others. Her writing has received honorable mention from Glimmer Train and the Ardella Mills Non-fiction Award. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Winner of the 2021 Firecracker Award in Creative Nonfiction

"This is a stunning tribute to a life that ended too soon, a tribute that simultaneously rings with strength and rage. It is also a brave and honest call for justice." --Booklist

"Eloquently poignant." --Kirkus Reviews

"If we share in [Melissa Valentine's] rage, we can also draw strength from the way she has used it to hone her voice and to write toward the possibility of healing; and therein lies the astonishing generosity of this book." --Los Angeles Review of Books

"In this poignant, painful, and gorgeous memoir, Melissa Valentine bravely explores what faces black boys and men, through the eyes of a black woman, sister, daughter, and member of a family whose lives are altered forever, time and time again. The Names of All the Flowers encourages us to be brave too; brave enough to imagine a world that loves black people, in all of our complexities." --Alicia Garza, cofounder, Black Lives Matter

"You will think about this book for a very long time." --Catherine McKinley, author of The Book of Sarahs: A Family in Parts

"Valentine's words on grief and trauma will stick with me for life: 'We are all witness and therefore no one is spared from this loss.' This is a book I know I'll return to time and time again." --Tyler Ford, founding editor, them

"In this stunning debut, Melissa Valentine traces an unforgettable narrative of growing up the daughter of a white Quaker man and his Black Southern wife. This is a memoir filled with grief and tenderness as it keenly navigates its way around her compelling devotion to her older brother, powerfully piecing together how tragedy could befall this community in the first place."--Firecracker judges E. J. Koh, Paul Lisicky, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil

"Sharp and incredibly courageous, The Names of All the Flowers is an act of profound love, profound service. Valentine gives herself the task of speaking the words of all of our grief, all of our trauma, and she does so with unexpected beauty and honesty. I could not resist this book. In the end, it broke me." --Carvell Wallace, writer, New York Times Magazine

"Valentine's heartfelt memoir of losing her brother expresses the grief of being a black woman left behind when a black man dies to gun violence, and the specific condition of growing up mixed race in Oakland. As such, it's a portrait of a place, a person who died too young, the systems that led to that death, and the keen insights of the author herself. Lyrical and smart, with appropriate undercurrents of rage." --Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora

"The Names of All the Flowers poignantly builds up to its heartbreaking loss with loving details. Valentine's painstaking dedication to honor her brother's life shines through with every sentence." --YZ Chin, author of Though I Get Home

"A stunning, evocative, and timely debut by a writer who carries the heritage and history of this country in her veins. As a biracial black girl growing up between the hood and affluent parts of Oakland, Valentine dives head first into that place of in-betweenness, of belonging and not, of the distances between a brother and sister as they make their way in a world beset by the cruelty of antiblack racism. Valentine immortalizes the grief and despair in the loss of her brother, but at the same time, indelibly paints the beau