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The Sweeter the Juice is a provocative memoir that goes to the heart of our American identity. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, in an effort to reconcile the dissonance between her black persona and her undeniably multiracial heritage, started on a journey of discovery that took her over thousands of miles and hundreds of years. While searching for her mother's family, Haizlip conf The Sweeter the Juice is a provocative memoir that goes to the heart of our American identity. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, in an effort to reconcile the dissonance between her black persona and her undeniably multiracial heritage, started on a journey of discovery that took her over thousands of miles and hundreds of years. While searching for her mother's family, Haizlip confronted the deeply intertwined but often suppressed tensions between race and skin color. We are drawn in by the story of an African-American family. Some members chose to "cross over" and "pass" for white while others enjoyed a successful black life. Their stories weave a tale of tangled ancestry, mixed blood, and identity issues from the 17th century to the present. The Sweeter the Juice is a memoir, a social history, a biography, and an autobiography. Haizlip gives to us the quintessential American story, unveiling truths about race, about our society, and about the ways in which we all perceive and judge one another.


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The Sweeter the Juice is a provocative memoir that goes to the heart of our American identity. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, in an effort to reconcile the dissonance between her black persona and her undeniably multiracial heritage, started on a journey of discovery that took her over thousands of miles and hundreds of years. While searching for her mother's family, Haizlip conf The Sweeter the Juice is a provocative memoir that goes to the heart of our American identity. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, in an effort to reconcile the dissonance between her black persona and her undeniably multiracial heritage, started on a journey of discovery that took her over thousands of miles and hundreds of years. While searching for her mother's family, Haizlip confronted the deeply intertwined but often suppressed tensions between race and skin color. We are drawn in by the story of an African-American family. Some members chose to "cross over" and "pass" for white while others enjoyed a successful black life. Their stories weave a tale of tangled ancestry, mixed blood, and identity issues from the 17th century to the present. The Sweeter the Juice is a memoir, a social history, a biography, and an autobiography. Haizlip gives to us the quintessential American story, unveiling truths about race, about our society, and about the ways in which we all perceive and judge one another.

30 review for Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Readers who liked The Color of Water, Slaves in the Family, and One Drop will probably be equally fascinated by The Sweeter the Juice. It, like the others mentioned, is a family history of a mixed-race family in America. Shirlee Taylor was born in 1937 into the black bourgeoisie. Her father was a Baptist minister and the son of a prominent pastor in Washington, D.C. In the included photographs and by his daughter's description, he is light-skinned but obviously a Negro (the preferred term in his Readers who liked The Color of Water, Slaves in the Family, and One Drop will probably be equally fascinated by The Sweeter the Juice. It, like the others mentioned, is a family history of a mixed-race family in America. Shirlee Taylor was born in 1937 into the black bourgeoisie. Her father was a Baptist minister and the son of a prominent pastor in Washington, D.C. In the included photographs and by his daughter's description, he is light-skinned but obviously a Negro (the preferred term in his day). Her mother, also a Washingtonian, was lighter still and was often mistaken for a white woman. Yet she had been more or less abandoned by her father and older siblings as a small child when, after her mother's death, they decided to leave Washington in order to "pass" and live as whites, considering young Margaret too dark to pass. This story of abandonment was told to the Taylor children and made a deep impression on Shirlee. The Sweeter the Juice details Shirlee's investigations into her parents' antecedents and the difficult but eventually successful search for her mother's white siblings. Ironically, it was the girl abandoned for "looking black" who had the better life, both materially and emotionally. The book is also an extended meditation on race and color in both the black and white communities of the United States, as well as a memoir of growing up black in the 1940s and 1950s and living through the Civil Rights Movement. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip graduated from Wellesley at a time when there were only two other Negro women in her entering class. She and her husband, a classicist who appears to have worked mostly in education, had a number of different jobs in places as diverse as Boston, New York, the Virgin Islands and Los Angeles. Shirlee makes no bones about never having been attracted to white or lighter-skinned men, and like her mother she married a darker-skinned man. A 1980s photograph of her mother's second wedding shows that one of the Haizlips' daughters is much darker than the rest of the family, and I was surprised that, in a book filled with talk about skin tone, nose shape, lip fullness, and whether hair is "good" or "bad", the daughters' skin colors are not mentioned at all. I would love to read a memoir by those two, who have grown up in such a different world, but with one thing that their parents also had and worked hard to maintain in their daughters -- pride in their black identity. Recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carol Baldwin

    As my loyal blog readers know, I am researching and writing my first young adult novel, Half-Truths. Since the story involves a light-skinned African American girl, I have read several multi-racial books. I recently completed The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White (Simon and Schuster, 1995), by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, a contemporary author who reflects on the effects of her mother's light skin on herself, her family of origin, as well as on Ms. Haizlip's own upbringing. The bo As my loyal blog readers know, I am researching and writing my first young adult novel, Half-Truths. Since the story involves a light-skinned African American girl, I have read several multi-racial books. I recently completed The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White (Simon and Schuster, 1995), by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, a contemporary author who reflects on the effects of her mother's light skin on herself, her family of origin, as well as on Ms. Haizlip's own upbringing. The book opens with a family tree that I consulted frequently. I thought the best way I could do justice to this exhaustively researched and well-written book, is to share some passages here. So, without further ado, here is Ms. Haizlip: Chapter Two opens with this poem by Langston Hughes, giving the reader a glimpse of what this autobiography will entail: My old man's a white old man And my old mother's black. If ever I cursed my white old man I take my curses back. If ever I cursed my black old mother And wished she were in hell, I'm sorry for that evil wish And now I wish her well. My old man died in a fine big house My ma died in a shack. I wonder where I'm gonna die, Being neither white nor black? "Cross" 1926 The English word mulatto is derived from the Latin mulus, for "mule," traveling down through Portugese and Spanish. Its original meaning was much the same: a mixed breed. But mules are sterile, while mulattoes were not. And historically, "mulatto" was a prejorative term that blacks used with ambivalence. Those who bore it had no choice in how they came to be born into what one observer called "a society long quietly familiar with illicit sex based on ownership." Their straight, wavy, curly, kinky or nappy hair was blond, brown, auburn, red and black. Their eyes were hazel, green blue, gray, brown, black and even lavender. My family has all of these colors and textures. p. 39 To the white community, some lighter blacks were more acceptable than their darker kinfolk. "They" were like "us." Some even had good manners, knew how to read and played musical instruments. In the end, a fair skin emitted mixed signals. It became a badge of prestige or a mark of disdain. p. 56 I wonder if "real" white people understand the terrors that "pretend white" people have of being exposed as black....To say that a black person "looks white" is assumed to be a compliment, but the converse is not true. p. 71 By the time she was ten, she [the author's mother] would take the up up the tree-lined Massachusetts Avenue. Usually she rode in the back of the bus reserved for colored patrons, but when she was feeling defiant, she would ride up front. It pleased her that she could fool people who put so much stock in skin color. p. 93. Because she had been abandoned by her white family, she [the author's mother] perceived herself to be darker than she was. p. 94. I began the search for my mother's family believing that I was looking for black people "passing for white." And they did indeed pass. But what I ultimatly found, I realized, were black people who had become white. p. 266 As I wrestle with the meaning of skin color and how my characters see themselves and how the world interacts with them, The Sweeter the Juice provided me with a greater insights into the world I am carefully--oh so carefully--attempting to portray. Thank you, Ms. Haizlip, for sharing your personal journey with me and the rest of the world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Constance Chevalier

    enjoyed...really interesting

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amber Williams

    There are aspects of this memoir that I enjoyed and I love the idea of it. Unfortunately, I feel that the book falls short. I think my main issue is with the voice of the novel (which I am aware can come off as somewhat offensive given that this is a memoir). The language/syntax throws me off. There were quite a few moments where I had to re-read what I had just gone over. Not due to any complexity in ideas but simply because of how something was written. There are also a few moments where Haizl There are aspects of this memoir that I enjoyed and I love the idea of it. Unfortunately, I feel that the book falls short. I think my main issue is with the voice of the novel (which I am aware can come off as somewhat offensive given that this is a memoir). The language/syntax throws me off. There were quite a few moments where I had to re-read what I had just gone over. Not due to any complexity in ideas but simply because of how something was written. There are also a few moments where Haizlip dwells on information that disrupts the narrative. There are times where the narration seems self-serving and self-congratulatory and then there are moments where I am not sure how Haizlip feels about something at all, in particular towards the end of the memoir. For a memoir so full of politics and the personal, somehow the depth of reflection seems so superficial and cliched. As a somewhat random note, I have to say that I appreciated the preface. Too often do writers (especially of memoirs- in my experience) forget to share about all the help that goes into creating their work. In the worlds of both fiction and non-fiction, there seems to be this idea that writing a book or novel means that someone locks themselves in an office in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, sustaining themselves on coffee, cigarettes, and Depression. People forget that writing, in many ways, is a group activity requiring a collective force of people to bring the final product into being. So, because of that, I have to give kudos to Haizlip for dedicating a few pages to name those that helped her get this book to shelf.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Keisha

    The Sweeter the Juice is one of those books that should be read by a wide spectrum of Americans, but that I fear won't be read by enough. Haizlip's book is a beautifully told memoir demonstrating the historic familial, social and economic interconnectedness of blacks, whites and Native Americans in the US. Her journey was prompted by a strong desire to understand why some of her “white-looking” relatives made the tough decision to live as white Americans and discard their racially muddled pasts The Sweeter the Juice is one of those books that should be read by a wide spectrum of Americans, but that I fear won't be read by enough. Haizlip's book is a beautifully told memoir demonstrating the historic familial, social and economic interconnectedness of blacks, whites and Native Americans in the US. Her journey was prompted by a strong desire to understand why some of her “white-looking” relatives made the tough decision to live as white Americans and discard their racially muddled pasts and ancestry. Through her search, she - a woman who self-identifies as either black or mixed-race - discovers that her black family is the descendent of Martha Washington, free and enslaved blacks and other people of various nationalities and ethnicities with fascinating and rich stories. Her discoveries unearth many feelings: those of resentment, confusion, forgiveness and uncertainty along with a quest to answer a question that seems to have no simple answer: what is race? The story she tells is inspirational and inspiring and I’d recommend the novel to those interested in the history of racial relations in the US, history buffs, fans of genealogical studies and anyone with a family full of secrets they’ve been dying to uncover.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donna Welch

    Shirlee Haizslip has traced her family back to colonial times and shares both history and personal accounts. She shares both the pain and the joys of being in a racially mixed family, where some left the fold to "pass". All in all, a quick and excellent read, particularly during this time when we finally see an African-American running for president.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Really 3 and a half stars. My mother graduated from high school withthe author of this book, so the parts about her growing up years were particularly interesting to me. I also liked hearing about my mother's hometown and area through the eyes of a black woman.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    I've re-read this book several times. The author does an excellent job of weaving her family's history with the nation's.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alexia

    As someone who has researched my own family roots as well as others, family history has always fascinated me. Growing up in Southern California with friends of various races and religions, I look at each and every person as more than skin color. As someone who has lived in two African nations, I know what it is like to be the "minority" in those countries. I have owned this book for many years and I attempted to read it before but was unable to get too far. I read this book now for the 2019 Pops As someone who has researched my own family roots as well as others, family history has always fascinated me. Growing up in Southern California with friends of various races and religions, I look at each and every person as more than skin color. As someone who has lived in two African nations, I know what it is like to be the "minority" in those countries. I have owned this book for many years and I attempted to read it before but was unable to get too far. I read this book now for the 2019 Popsugar challenge and I'm glad I did. The vast information about her family is fantastic and the various accomplishments, personalities and adventures of her immediate family especially is fabulous. I can't begin to understand what it is like to "appear" white to so many for a woman who embraces and identifies herself as black. As someone who doesn't think much about my own skin color and knows that my own ethnic identity is white with some Jewish heritage, there is no denying who I am and who I think I am. If I tried to read this book when I was younger, I believe I would have found the author intolerant and angry. Reading it today, I find her complicated, evolving and wondering. This book is now part of the expansive "required reading" for many college students and I can see why. This is a wonderful book for anyone who is interested like I am in family history/genealogy, race relations and black history. Her own experiences plus those of her parents and incredible people who they both met and knew well makes the reading journey worth it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bucket

    A beautiful family history, endlessly fascinating and well-told. Haizlip's thoughts and ideas about race in America peek through throughout her telling of her family's history, and especially when she arrives at her own experiences. Best and most overt was when she described her feelings about integration. First she carried them proudly on her shoulders, but throughout her life these feelings slipped down her body until at the writing of this book they are around her knees, tripping her up and s A beautiful family history, endlessly fascinating and well-told. Haizlip's thoughts and ideas about race in America peek through throughout her telling of her family's history, and especially when she arrives at her own experiences. Best and most overt was when she described her feelings about integration. First she carried them proudly on her shoulders, but throughout her life these feelings slipped down her body until at the writing of this book they are around her knees, tripping her up and sometimes coming loose. Besides the final 20-25 pages, the last third of the book is slightly less immersive than the first two-thirds. Haizlip spends much of this section painting quick pictures (in a page or less) of various family members who haven't been a big part of the rest of the story. Usually, it's a quick description of their appearance, biographical details (marriage, children), and one anecdote that Haizlip seems to see as defining of them or impactful to her book. I understand the urge to include everyone -- it's her family history! -- but this section was a bit of a slog.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Alexander

    While well researched on both sides of her family AND her husband’s family, there was too much extra history here that I didn’t need. I picked this book up because of the biraciality and the passing relatives. I was specifically interested in how a family abandons two children because they aren’t quite light enough to pass. It was ironic to me that the black side of Haizlip’s family did so much better economically and emotionally than the passing side. It was fascinating to me the emotional toil While well researched on both sides of her family AND her husband’s family, there was too much extra history here that I didn’t need. I picked this book up because of the biraciality and the passing relatives. I was specifically interested in how a family abandons two children because they aren’t quite light enough to pass. It was ironic to me that the black side of Haizlip’s family did so much better economically and emotionally than the passing side. It was fascinating to me the emotional toil passing creates. There was just too much here— was the book a history? A memoir? A novel ? (which it read like at times.) In the end, the classism made it hard for me to relate to the Haizlips or care much about this plodding epic tale. I’m still trying to figure out how a Baptist minister during the Depression ends up with a Cadillac, fine house, and sends 3 kids thru top tier universities. I wish she’d just focused on her mother’s story

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dee Ann

    This book gives a very interesting perspective to life as seen through the eyes of a black woman from a mixed race lineage. It traces her family back several generations and the feelings that surface when some of her family have 'passed' as white. It gave me many moments to reflect on and wonder what my reactions would be under similar circumstances.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    This is a fascinating meditation on race in American society and history; one part family memoir, one part personal memoir. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    A well written book; thought provoking. Sad & joyful. A well written book; thought provoking. Sad & joyful.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Denise Billings

    Loved it. Learned some things.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adrianne

    This book was a great read. It helped me to understand the way a lot of people have felt about skin color, historically speaking, meaning dark skinned versus light skinned. It explained what it meant and means to be biracial, going between both worlds. Additionally, it also showed how some people even felt necessary to choose between the two. I felt after reading this that I could better understand race and being biracial, and what it means to many. This is something that I had been challenged wi This book was a great read. It helped me to understand the way a lot of people have felt about skin color, historically speaking, meaning dark skinned versus light skinned. It explained what it meant and means to be biracial, going between both worlds. Additionally, it also showed how some people even felt necessary to choose between the two. I felt after reading this that I could better understand race and being biracial, and what it means to many. This is something that I had been challenged with prior to reading, and now I can see how a lot of the things that I’ve experienced on a personal level were a part of a much bigger picture, something beyond by control. Overall, very interesting read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen (itpdx)

    Haizlip tells the story of her family--her life, what she can find out about her ancestors and her living family. There is a lot to think about here. Some of her mother's family have cut themselves off from their family and become white. Her mother is also light skinned but chooses to marry a darker man and remain in the black community. Haizlip graduated from high school in 1954, so we see the Civil Rights movement through her eyes. She explores some of the "internal" racism within the black co Haizlip tells the story of her family--her life, what she can find out about her ancestors and her living family. There is a lot to think about here. Some of her mother's family have cut themselves off from their family and become white. Her mother is also light skinned but chooses to marry a darker man and remain in the black community. Haizlip graduated from high school in 1954, so we see the Civil Rights movement through her eyes. She explores some of the "internal" racism within the black community over skin color and hair characteristics. This book includes the reactions of some Americans when they find out that they have African ancestors. (This in the 90's and in the north and west. I would think that it would have been different in the 40's and in the south). Something that she did not explore but which to me is very evident in her story is classicism. Much of her family is college educated and many have graduate degrees. They attend Ivy League colleges, have "coming out" parties, weddings and funerals with hundreds if not thousands attending. They know governors, mayors and senators. And this privilege goes back several generations. This family is not like some of the members of her father's church--illiterate share-croppers who have moved north to work in the brass foundry in town. This book is interesting and explores some important issues but it did not touch me the way that The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration or Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock did.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gail Richmond

    Shirlee Taylor Haizlip's tale is primarily family history but partly memoir as she explores serious questions that revolve around her understanding of her family: What is race in a country where a person of mixed race can pass as white or live as black? What forces drive a family to abandon a child of their own, in Haizlip's case, her mother, and how do relatives live with their choice? And, for the discerning reader, is living the "white" life so much easier than living the richer, warmer "blac Shirlee Taylor Haizlip's tale is primarily family history but partly memoir as she explores serious questions that revolve around her understanding of her family: What is race in a country where a person of mixed race can pass as white or live as black? What forces drive a family to abandon a child of their own, in Haizlip's case, her mother, and how do relatives live with their choice? And, for the discerning reader, is living the "white" life so much easier than living the richer, warmer "black" life, which is inferred in all that Haizlip shares? The NYTimes review titled "How Black? How White?" pinpoints the issues presented by Haizlip, and in an intriguing tale, if at times redundant and more detailed than necessary, of puzzles solved, research and oral history. Haizlip's life was strictly upper middle class; her father was a prominent Baptist minister; her Wellesley education and Harvard-graduate-husband are not what many of her generation experienced. Yet, it is intriguing that Ms. Haizlip was driven to trace the history of her family and succeeded at many levels. Yet, even at the end, there are surprises on a the rocky journey to understanding and acceptance. As an educator who meets students of mixed race---Black/White; Asian/white; Hispanic/Black; Hispanic; Hispanic/Native American; Middle Eastern/White; and so forth ad infinitum---this is a worthwhile book to read, not only for the questions it raises on race in America, but also for the ideas presented on how the dominant culture of "white" in America treats all of those of mixed race. In my mind I wonder if when race will not rule human behaviors in this country.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chana

    Interesting from both an historical perspective and a personal perspective. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip tells the story of her own mixed race family, and some of the history of race in America. I do dislike the labels. Think of how long people have been living on this earth. Everyone is mixed blood. Does it matter? Identity is questionable for many of us. As an adopted child I felt many of the same things that her mother did; abandonment, wondering what was wrong with me or with the family that I was Interesting from both an historical perspective and a personal perspective. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip tells the story of her own mixed race family, and some of the history of race in America. I do dislike the labels. Think of how long people have been living on this earth. Everyone is mixed blood. Does it matter? Identity is questionable for many of us. As an adopted child I felt many of the same things that her mother did; abandonment, wondering what was wrong with me or with the family that I was born to, feeling alone and needing to create the family that I could call my own, the strange question of who am I, what race am I if my blood is one thing but my family is another? These kinds of questions are certainly not limited to the African American. I loved hearing about her father and mother, she gave a real clear picture of who they were and it was easy to like them both.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Valarie

    I tried to finish this book, but it was just so badly organized that I couldn't muddle through. At times it is an interesting account of America's obsession with race, as Haizlip's relatives divide over the slightest differences in skin tone. Mostly, however, it is a compilation of the author's research in geneaology, and reading about dozens of distant relatives' census records is just not interesting. I also noticed several mistakes just in the first part of the book, for instance, that "most" I tried to finish this book, but it was just so badly organized that I couldn't muddle through. At times it is an interesting account of America's obsession with race, as Haizlip's relatives divide over the slightest differences in skin tone. Mostly, however, it is a compilation of the author's research in geneaology, and reading about dozens of distant relatives' census records is just not interesting. I also noticed several mistakes just in the first part of the book, for instance, that "most" white Americans have black heritage, and that 80% of the African-American population has significant Indian ancestry. That's just not true, and quick research will reveal that these statistics are way off. So did Haizlip just invent those numbers? How much of this memoir is true and how much is wishful thinking?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    It is sad when a subject that holds such fascinating promise loses focus. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip has a fascinating family story to tell but I felt the book was like a disheveled room in which the main characters became jumbled so that the weaving of the family history jumbled into a knot. Toward its end the book takes on occasional forays into more of a personal memoir than family story, leaving me disappointed at the change in focus. "The Sweeter the Juice" would be very much worth a do-over if It is sad when a subject that holds such fascinating promise loses focus. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip has a fascinating family story to tell but I felt the book was like a disheveled room in which the main characters became jumbled so that the weaving of the family history jumbled into a knot. Toward its end the book takes on occasional forays into more of a personal memoir than family story, leaving me disappointed at the change in focus. "The Sweeter the Juice" would be very much worth a do-over if ever a fine editor could pick up the book and smooth out the mess. There are some fascinating characters in that family tree, and some very intriguing family disconnections based on shades of skin. This could have been a brilliant and emotional read with unique insight into a world unknown to me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    This book came to my attention on Oprah, when the author described how her grandmother, who had been living "black" had met her sister (or cousin?), who had been living "white" at a bus stop, for the first time, as elderly ladies. (Forgive me if I have the details wrong--it's been a while since I read it.) It's about how some light-skinned African-Americans crossed over to the "other side", abandoning all ties to family in order to gain other benefits. The author points out that black and white This book came to my attention on Oprah, when the author described how her grandmother, who had been living "black" had met her sister (or cousin?), who had been living "white" at a bus stop, for the first time, as elderly ladies. (Forgive me if I have the details wrong--it's been a while since I read it.) It's about how some light-skinned African-Americans crossed over to the "other side", abandoning all ties to family in order to gain other benefits. The author points out that black and white Americans who have been in this country more than a couple of generations are related much more closely that we would think. One of the most fascinating, life-changing books I have ever read; a page-turner with an amazing ending.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    This book has a great story, but it was in need of some serious editing. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip traces her family history and explains how skin color impacted their lives and choices. The story is very insightful explaining how there is some black, white, red, and even maybe some yellow in all of us, and asking the inevitable question than why can't we all accept one another. The beginning of the book bogs down with too many names for the reader to keep track of despite the family tree provided. This book has a great story, but it was in need of some serious editing. Shirlee Taylor Haizlip traces her family history and explains how skin color impacted their lives and choices. The story is very insightful explaining how there is some black, white, red, and even maybe some yellow in all of us, and asking the inevitable question than why can't we all accept one another. The beginning of the book bogs down with too many names for the reader to keep track of despite the family tree provided. The second part, a memoir of Shirlee's life with her parents, bogs down from too much detail. Overall I recommend this book because of its great insights, but you need to be patient with it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    I usually prefer memoirs only if they're humorous, but the family history angle of this one was a good hook for me. I think the main thing that kept me from giving it five stars is that she didn't concentrate as much on family history as I would like and I found the personal biography part less interesting (it's a lot of "I was rich and doing rich people things" with unexamined classism). But overall definitely an interesting read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kanani

    Fascinating story about a woman who was abandoned by her family when they started to "pass" because she was too dark. This was both interesting and upsetting to read. This excellent story would have been much better with the help of a good editor, as it was too dense with details and didn't flow very well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Werking Poling

    In preparation for a presentation I'll be making on BEFORE IT WAS LEGAL: A BLACK WHTE MARRIAGE (1945-1987) I've been reading memoirs by biracial offspring. Haizlip's is one of the most readable. She tells of how part of her mother's family has identified as white, another part as black. It's a moving story too of her mother's alienation from her siblings and reconnection.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lori White

    Here's one of those books I read a few years ago but continue to recommend to others. It's a great story, a family story and in a lot of ways a story that documents our times. Basically it's a story of racism and what it means to be family. Compelling and thought-provoking.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Kenney

    I read several books about African American history and family history. This was one of the fastest reads and it stayed with me. Recommend, it is a well done book. The Color of Water was also very good.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    I have been looking forward to purchasing and reading this book and was not disappointed. Shirlee Haizlip tells the story of her multiracial family's struggle in America, and her quest to connect with her mother's siblings who "passed" into the white world.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lenette Graham

    This book combines two of my favorite elements: history and race. Love it! I don't want to get into my background every time I review a book that's about mixed ancestry, but I can totally relate. I'll leave it at that.

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