Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Memoir

Finished September 7
I'm Down by Mishna Wolff
Mishna has a very unusual childhood, growing up in a poor black neighbourhood of Seattle, with a white father who thinks and acts black. Her father works occasional construction jobs, but generally doesn't do a lot to support his family. Her parents split up when she is quite young, but unusually for the time, she and her sister Anora stay with her father. The neighbourhood she grew up in is the same one her father grew up in, and while he fit in, friends with the black men in the area, she doesn't. She feels white and out of place and she doesn't know how to act to fit in, although her sister has a better time of it. When she gets accepted into a progressive school, she finds she doesn't fit in with the white kids there either, as she is too "black" to fit into that culture. When her father remarries, this time to a black woman, it doesn't get any easier and Mishna has a difficult time finding her way, determined to get a better life and yet unsure how to attain that goal.
I found this memoir very engaging and interesting not just for Mishna's own experiences, which she tells in a lively and honest way, but also because I have an adopted sister who is black, and she has told me that she has trouble fitting into black culture because she was raised "white". This is an interesting look at culture and environment and how it shapes us.

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