Book Review: Sonic Memories

It’s happy hour on a Saturday. Cija Jefferson and I order fried chicken sandwiches and pile into a booth at a neighborhood bar in Baltimore. My one year old is diving under the table and over the seat in constant motion. Luckily it’s only us and the bartender so she avoids getting trampled.

We’ve come here to discuss writing and being a writer and her book, Sonic Memories. She is a generous conversationalist, always turning the talk back to ask about me and my writing. When I tell her I just want to get honest with my words, she nods furiously.

That’s because Jefferson’s collection of essays is exactly that, a raw and honest account of selected stories from her life. As she takes the reader from childhood to present day, her ability to create scenes and dialog that feel real have me forgetting these were not memories from my own life. Each essay is relatable on such a basic, human level. She is able to tap into those emotions that form our collective experience effortlessly.

I was particularly haunted by a chapter in her book about leaving her life behind on the East coast for greener pastures in California. This particular story really captured her experience of living in the moment, of enjoying life despite not knowing what lie ahead, and not really caring what lie behind. It brought me back to that glow of youth and less responsibilities. Cija captures this rare, fleeting feeling beautifully in this story.

Another theme Cija handles well is the experience of being an outsider. She writes about attending all white schools and reflects on her identity as it crosses worlds and boundaries as she comes of age. It was refreshing to read a unique perspective on life’s ordinary episodes.

What I like most about Sonic Memories is the overall tone. This writer never says these are things that happened to me and they are really sad, or happy, or embarrassing. No, she just tells her stories. The reader gets the sense that this is just life, and it’s no big deal and also the only deal at the same time. It’s a heartbreaking, inspiring, and joyful read.

Support independent publishing. Pick up a copy of Sonic Memories by Cija Jefferson here.

This review was unsolicited by the author. We just liked her book.

Yellow Arrow Publishing is happy to review works of creative nonfiction by female identifying authors. If you have a book that fits this description and would like us to review it, please send an inquiry to


Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers and Writers,

Yellow Arrow Publishing inspires, supports, and publishes non-traditional, female identifying writers in the genre of creative nonfiction. 

We seek to target wonderful, vibrant voices seldom heard in the literary community due to barriers such as academic literacy, disability, access to creative opportunities, or English language proficiency. We do this because for every one woman who manages to get published, there are a hundred more with equally important stories to tell.  Yellow Arrow Publishing is focused on knocking these barriers down by allowing women to express themselves however they come to the page. We create a safe space for women to be proud of their work and their lives and their stories, to share without fear of scorn or shame.  

Women’s voices are underrepresented in literature, and we are here to be part of turning that tide. Sadly, there is a great deal of collective shaming directed toward female writers. A stern “how dare you?” echoes all around. As women, there are a lot of expectations around taking care of people, holding ourselves back so that others can shine, and keeping quiet. So when we have the guts to say, “this is me,” it is often taken as narcissistic, egocentric or arrogant. Providing opportunities for people to muster the courage to express themselves is deeply important work. We see creativity as an act of service, making this project not just about great literature, but about contributing to the collective voice. It’s about saying, yes, we belong here, too. There is no shame in that, just as there is no shame in singing, in sculpting, or in taking pictures. We must share our voices so that our daughters and our nieces can know that her experience is valuable. So that the little neighbor girl up the street will read our stories and say, “me, too.” Expressing who we are and sharing our experience, strength and hope deepens the understanding of the human condition, allowing us all to better empathize with one another.

Along with telling stories, one of my gifts in life is the capacity to inspire others to be brave, to dare to be the best version of themselves. The process of writing has brought me so much joy and purpose over the years, especially after finishing my first book. It became clear that drawing creativity out in others would be a way that I could give back and find fulfillment beyond my own creative aspirations.

Join us by submitting your story along the theme of “journey,” for our first literary magazine, due out in July. See the submissions tab for more information.