Grant, Donna

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GRANT, Donna


Female. Education: Attended Barnard College; graduated from New York University.


Home—Brooklyn, NY. Agent—c/o St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].


Author. Cofounder and former managing editor of Maxima magazine. Previously worked at New York Daily News and as a model.


(With Virginia DeBerry) Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Virginia DeBerry) Far from the Tree, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.


While she was working at the New York Daily News in the 1980s, Brooklyn native Donna Grant's coworkers dared her to audition for a job as a large-size model. "I said they were crazy," she recalled in a biography on the Web site she maintains with best friend and collaborator Virginia DeBerry, "but we bet lunch on it and I went to the agency open call. Within two weeks I had my first bookings, so I bought lunch." She went on to appear in ads featured in magazines such as McCall's and Essence, as well as television programs that included Today, Good Morning America, and Live with Regis and Kathy Lee.

In the course of her career, Grant met DeBerry, who was also vying for modeling jobs, and instead of becoming rivals, the two became best friends and decided to collaborate as fiction writers. Their first novel, Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, proved highly successful after it was published in 1997. Three years later, St. Martin's Press gave their follow-up, Far from the Tree, an advance printing of 150,000.

The old saying about generations in a family—that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"—is "poignantly depicted," according to Lillian Lewis of Booklist, in Far from the Tree, Grant and DeBerry's portrayal of four generations of African-American women. When her husband dies and bequeaths her two daughters a parcel of land in North Carolina, Della Frazier is forced to confront memories she would have preferred to leave undisturbed. Each of the three women is on a quest for the unattainable: bossy Celeste, who lives in Buffalo, is a climbing socialite whose marriage is falling apart, while Ronnie struggles to make it as an actress in Manhattan. When the three head south to Prosper, North Carolina, the story opens up with visions of the past—how Della, or Odella, was born, the love child of her mother, Annie, and her biological father, who took her in at age ten after her mother died—and visions of the future, as Celeste gradually makes peace with her twenty-three-year-old daughter Niki. By the end, Della has reconciled with her past, and Ronnie discovers friends she did not know she had.

Julie K. L. Dam in People maintained that "the book's three heroines start out so churlish that it's hard to swallow the ending, in which each is transformed and tidily resettled in her life," but a reviewer in Publishers Weekly praised the "strong, colorful characters" and concluded that "the story moves gracefully between the 1950s and the present day." According to Joyce Fay Fletcher in School Library Journal, "This novel has a seamless, omniscient narrative voice," while Lewis in Booklist held that "This story is brave, realistic, and touching. It will definitely be another hit for the duo!"



Black Issues Book Review, January, 2001, Robyn Moore, review of Far from the Tree, p. 23.

Booklist, July, 2000, Lillian Lewis, review of Far from the Tree, p. 1972.

Essence, November, 2000, review of Far from the Tree, p. 82.

People, September 11, 2000, Julie K. L. Dam, review of Far from the Tree, p. 59.

Publishers Weekly, August 21, 2000, review of Far from the Tree, p. 47.

School Library Journal, March, 2001, Joyce Fay Fletcher, review of Far from the Tree, p. 281.


Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant Home Page, (September 14, 2003).*