Saturday, October 17, 2009

Snapshot Book Review: I'm Down

I'm Down: a memoir I'm Down: a memoir by Mishna Wolff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was exactly what a memoir about a white girl growing up with a father who is convinced he is black should be. And if I need to describe what that is, you obviously need to read this book!

Growing up as a white girl in a 60-40 black/white school, I recognized and appreciated the forthrightness of the way Wolff presented language and culture in this book. I also recognized the identity struggles Mishna faced growing up being white amidst a black community but then having to unlearn her black tendencies and nuances to fit in with her white classmates when she transferred to a private school. What is she? What does she want to be? And does it matter?

This was a cringing, laugh-out-loud, smile-and-grimace-at-the-truth kind of book, and more like it need to be written. Its only shortcoming, ironically enough, is its presentation. If I were to walk through a bookstore, I never would have chosen this book based on its cover. It's a pop-y, bubble gum looking cover that actually comes off as rather abrasive and does not invite me to open it at all. If I were somehow drawn to open it, I then would have encountered photos that imply the chronology of a biography--another turnoff to a creative nonfiction memoir lover like myself. Yet this book was the furthest thing from a silly lark or a stuffy biography that there could be.

I highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced living in a mixed racial setting and all of the tensions and humors that go along with it.

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