by Shannon Gibney
Synopsis: Alexandra (Alex) Kitridge is black and was adopted into a white family. She’s had no issues with her biracial-ness until she discovers letters from her biological father. Then, she meets Reggie, the first guy who has wanted to get to know her, at a time when Alex starts to question if she really even knows herself.
Favorite Quotes: I looked down at the burnt brown skin on my hands, arms and legs, and wondered how it had come to cover me, how it was me. (page 15)
I could almost hear the rush of water behind me, it’s progress unstoppable. (page 18)
I am not stupid. I see things. I catch certain repeated phrases. I can sense discomfort. I notice willful blindness. (page 33)
I read the letter at least five more times in the antiseptic silence of the bathroom, while the bathtub faucet dripped behind me. (page 39)
At the end of the day, I was something that could be bought and sold like soap in the supermarket. (page 42)
He didn’t say anything; he just held me while I cried. It seemed like all the water I had in my body was coming out of my eyes… (page 106)
Black skin and kinky hair were one thing, but a black mind was another. (page 143)
Jordan pulled her hand out of mine. “I thought you were black,” she said.
Maya picked up her fork and pushed some rice onto it.
“You look black to me,” Jordan continued. (page 154)
Rating and Review: 2.98 stars (I really wanted to like this book)
Okay, let me just start with this: I didn’t like it. Period. I think this book was incorrectly categorized as fiction when it was a memoir. I personally think this is the author's life story. For a majority of this book, I couldn’t decide whether I liked it or hated it. I’m still on the fence as I am typing this review. Here’s why:
I could have done without the entire beginning. The book should have started on page 38 when Alex discovers letters from her biological father. As a biracial adolescent in a family where no one looks like you, I imagine it must be hard to come to grips with the fact that you’ve been adopted, especially when people start to question if you’re a family friend. (Who does that?) So, I get that. But, what I don’t understand is the main character’s conflict within the novel. It literally came out of nowhere. Alex couldn’t care less about her skin color or her family’s skin color until her white little sister (who was the most woke in the whole book) was basically like, “Ay, you know you black, right? The black girl across the street told me you were, like, black and you should like...idk, do black things. Look up your real family.” This is in the middle of dinner, by the way.
Alex does nothing.
Then Alex meets Reggie who is black and truly wants to get to know her. Alex’s insecurities about being “white-black” around a bunch of “black-black” people always gets the best of her. I can understand how it feels to eat dinner with your significant other’s family. It can be awkward for like...five minutes and then it’s fine. But, Alex was out-of-this-world awkward. To me, it was maddening how uncomfortable she was when no one was making her uncomfortable. No one commented on her skin color or how she talked. She was literally making things up in her mind and pushing herself away from the only person (Reggie) who cared about how she was feeling.
I understand what the author was going for. I understand that Alex was trying to find out who she was for herself and not who everyone wanted her to be. Her father wanted her to be this baseball superstar because he used to be one. Her mother and her brother wanted her to forget that she was black. Her little sister wanted her to be black. Her boyfriend just wanted her to open up. Who knew what the heck Alex wanted. She was just...there. The story was about everyone else. I would have loved to see more internal conflict from Alex. It seemed like she just woke up one day, looked at her arms and was like, “OMG I’m black and my family is white.”
Like I said in the beginning, I think it was a memoir. The author wrote her story. (She is black and adopted into a white family per the jacket bio). I can understand wanting to spread your story to the world.
Anyway, if you like kinda coming-of-age stories and woke white little sisters, this book is for you.
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