A Queer Black Woman’s Story of a Family Lost and Found

Coming Soon


By Nikkya Hargrove

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$38.00 CAD

In this searing and ultimately uplifting memoir, Lambda Literary Nonfiction Fellow Nikkya Hargrove describes how she—fresh out of college, Black, and queer—adopted her baby brother after their often incarcerated mother died, and how she determined to create the kind of family she never had. 
Growing up, Nikkya Hargrove’s mother was in and out of prison. Hargrove, one of the 5 million children dealing with the effects of an incarcerated parent, spent a good portion of her childhood in prison visiting rooms but almost never actually living with her mother. In Hargrove’s case, though, life got even more complicated when her mother—addicted to cocaine and just out of prison—had a son. When that child was just months old, Hargrove’s mother died and Hargrove, who had just graduated from college, decided to fight for custody of her half brother.

And fight she does. We see how she is subjected to preconceived notions that she, a Black, queer, young woman, cannot be given such responsibility. She’s honest about the shame she feels accepting food stamps, about her family’s reaction to her coming out, and about the joy she experiences when she meets the woman who will become her wife. But whether she’s clashing with Jonathan’s biological father or battling for Jonathan’s education rights after he’s diagnosed with ADHD and autism, this is a woman who won’t give up. 
Hargrove’s memoir picks up where Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy left off, exploring generational trauma and pulling back the curtain on family court and poverty in America.  Moving and inspiring, Mama is an ode to motherhood and identity, to never giving up, and to finding strength in family and community.


  • “A powerful and moving testament to love and redemption.”
    Phuc Tran, author of Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In
  • Mama is an evocative, unflinching, and ultimately triumphant tale of the burdens and bounty of familial love. Both brilliant and brave, Hargrove opens her heart on every page of this notable debut, and the result is transcendent.”
    Mat Johnson, author of Invisible Things and Pym
  • Mama is unforgettable: a compassionate, wise, observant, full-hearted, and beautifully crafted memoir of queer love and family that is destined to be beloved by many readers and will leave you cheering. Hargrove offers a deep and stirring view of the impacts of addiction and the criminal justice system on Black women, offering an account of hope, heartbreak, faith, courage, joy, and the comfort and care of extended and chosen families.”
    Sonya Huber, author of Voice First: A Writer's Manifesto and Pain Woman Takes Your Keys
  • “Bracing, intimate, and immensely personal, Mama is also a quintessential story of our American generation: the story of growing up in the throes of Mass Incarceration. Now, as a mother and author, Nikkya shares that story with the same courage with which she faced so many challenges before. Anyone interested in forging a better American future should read this book.”
    Max Kenner, founder and executive director, Bard Prison Initiative

On Sale
Oct 15, 2024
Page Count
240 pages
Algonquin Books

Nikkya Hargrove

About the Author

Nikkya Hargrove is a graduate of Bard College and currently serves as a member of the school's Board of Governors and chair of the alumni/ae Diversity Committee. A LAMBDA Literary Nonfiction Fellow, she has written about adoption, marriage, motherhood, and the prison system for The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, Scary Mommy, and Shondaland. She has worked for social impact nonprofits providing support to underserved communities throughout her professional career. She lives in Connecticut with her wife and three children.

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