Author revisits her journey growing up in South L.A.


By Marissa Wells

Contributing Writer

“Girlz ‘N the Hood: A Memoir of Mama in South Central Los Angeles,” by Mary Hill-Wagner, is a new book about a girl’s experience growing up in South Los Angeles with her 10 brothers and sisters.

“My mother was a single mother who ‘loved hard,’” Hill-Wagner said. “She kept us warm, safe and dry with the help of welfare checks and a gun hidden in her bra.”

The concept for the book was inspired by an assignment the author was given in college.

“I had a professor at the University of Southern California who gave out an essay assignment to write about the person you most admired,” Hill-Wagner said. “I chose my mother. That blossomed into a book.”

It was important for Hill-Wagner to create a book that spotlights the experience of African-American women and girls in South Los Angeles.

“There are many books and movies about the African-American experience of men and boys but very few, if any, about the women and girls in South Central Los Angeles,” Hill-Wagner said. “It has been more than time for this story.”

Inside her memoir, Hill-Wagner shares raw stories of her life and experiences she had growing and learning in South Los Angeles.

“This is a survivor’s story,” Hill-Wagner said. “You will see how women and girls hold up the world in the ghetto, not because we want to, but because we’ve had to.”

“Girlz ‘N the Hood” will no doubt be a moving yet enjoyable book for readers.

“Anyone who has had a mother who has been forced into the role of both parents — mother and father — will enjoy this book,” Hill-Wagner said. “Also, anyone who enjoys reading about quirky characters will enjoy this book.”

In addition to being an author, Hill-Wagner is a journalist, a grant writer, and a former college professor. She lives with her family in San Bernardino County. She will host a book signing Oct. 2, at 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Montclair.

For more information about the author and her work, visit

“Girlz ‘N the Hood: A Memoir of Mama in South Central Los Angeles” is available for $17.95 (paperback) via, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and all other major book sellers. The hardcover version of the book may be purchased as a special edition from Regal House Publishing.