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Schnee in Alabama.

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  4,576 ratings  ·  466 reviews
Birdie and her sister just want to be normal but it's difficult growing up with a black academic father and a white activist mother. Soon her parents' relationship becomes strained and they split, Cole going to Brazil with her father, while she goes on the road with her mother as they flee the FBI.
Published July 1st 2001 by Lübbe (first published February 2nd 1998)
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From this book came the passage that inspired the amazing Seattle hip hop duo, Canary Sing:
"The mulatto in America functions as a canary in a coal mine. Canaries were used by coal miners to gauge how poisonous the air underground was. They would bring a canary in with them, and if it grew sick and died they knew the air was bad and eventually everyone would be poisoned by the fumes. Likewise, mulattos have historically been the gauge of how poisonous American race relations were. The fate of th
May 13, 2008 T.J. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: multiracial folk, would-be activists, human interest story readers
Recommended to T.J. by: Kris Kang
The first time I read this book was on a a rainy bus ride in the San Francisco bay area, and I surprised myself by finding myself crying, for it in many ways spoke of my own multiracial experience, albeit in highly fictionalized form.

Danzy Senna's first novel, Caucasia, is a story of traumatic dislocation, disorientation, and confused ethnic identity, set in 1970s and 80s Boston and intermittently in other places. It's the story of Birdie Lee, her older sister, and her parents--the neurotic, bro
Claire McAlpine
Sandy is the daughter of a white New England family steeped in certain WASPish traditions and perspectives, a way she is familiar with, yet wishes to challenge both physically and vociferously. Deck Lee was one of Sandy's father's students,an intellectual, his head full of ideas, his motivation always to pursue them and commit them to paper. The two fall in love, their marriage Sandy's ultimate rebellious act, Deck is black.

But the story isn't really about these two, the intellectual and the pra
Barb howe
This is a perfect novel. It's not only a good story with great complicated compelling characters it really tells us a lot about the way race impacts our relationships with one another, and how that changes in time and place. I'm white and grew up in a small town in the South in the late 70s and 80s and the portrayal of small town white culture in that era is painfully accurate: the overt yet casual racism, the way we saw black people as so foreign and different, dangerous yet cool. We were deseg ...more
Caucasia is the story of Birdie Lee, the daughter of a white mother and a black father. Birdie has an older sister, Cole, who looks like how you would expect a child of her racial mix to look - black. Birdie, on the other hand, looks white. The contrast between the two causes constant confusion, and the never-ending assumption that Birdie must be adopted. The story is told from Birdie's perspective. She is quite young when the book begins and while she seems to understand racial politics to some ...more
It turns out that I am a sucker for books about biracial girls working out their identities. I absolutely loved this book and couldn't shut up about it back when I read it. I haven't touched it since because I don't want to remember it as being anything other than perfect. It's the story of a biracial family in 1970s Boston: black father, white mother, and two daughters, Cole and Birdie. The parents split and the father takes the dark-skinned daughter, Cole, and the mother takes the light-skinne ...more
This is my favorite book I've read so far in my Introduction to College Literature class because it was the only one whose characters have really spoken to me in a way that wasn't preachy or highly metaphorical.

Birdie, the main character, is a young mixed race girl growing up in Boston in the late seventies with her white mother, black father, and sister Cole, who is darker than her. Birdie can pass as white, and she feels like she doesn't fit in anywhere or in any race. Her mother, a radical a
Mar 17, 2011 Vaughn rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Growing up in a racially tense decade of the '70s is rough when you're bi-racial. The difficulty of the author growing up on the fence is captivating. With her writing style that is good to read with its flow and form of plotline, the book kept you reading until the end.
Not my favorite book I must honestly say, because of the strong resemblence between the tentativeness of the relationship between mother and daughter; it was very real and down to earth, which is okay, no problem with that, just
I really enjoyed this book. Caucasia is the story of a young girl named Birdie who is growing up in 1970's Boston with her beloved older sister, Cole, and black father and white mom. Birdie struggles as she moves through her life because she is always being questioned on her race, as she appears to be white with light skin and straight hair. On the other hand her sister appears black with black kinky hair and facial features. Their black father, Deck, feels the need to teach Cole about her peopl ...more
Caucasia, by Danzy Senna, examines what it means to be black. The story is about an interracial family and takes place in the early 70's to 80's. It is written in the view point of a young girl that appears to be white, while her sister appears to be black. The parents are young radicals that eventually have to split up because the mother needs to go underground to hide from her revolutionary past. The mother takes the white child, Birdie, and the father takes Cole the black child. The story fol ...more
Danzy Senna's CAUCASIA houses a lot of serious issues that deal with racial identity in the United States. Though the book takes place during the late 70s/early 80s, the issues are still poignant today. The coming-of-age story centers around the pigment-ly white Birdie Lee, the daughter of a white mother and black father, and sister to a more visibly-black Cole. When the parents split up, Birdie and Cole are separated from each other, with no clues to each other whereabouts. The story follows th ...more
I will write a full-length book review on my blog, but I loved this book. I started it Friday, forced myself not to read too much on Saturday, but ultimately woke up at 6am on Sunday to finish it.

It's a complex book, about race, about adolescence, and about the way that life wounds us. While some might roll their eyes at some of the plot twists, the character development is first rate and the obvious emotion behind the issues is admirable - given this is her first novel.

I related to so much of t
Feb 23, 2008 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Jenny, Powell's Daily Dose
When we first meet Birdie Lee, she is an 8-year-old whose whole world is her family: her beloved older sister Cole, her fiery and mercurial mother who has turned her back on her upper-class upbringing to do some unspecified underground activities, and her father, a professor at Boston U who writes about race. The fact that her mother is white and her father is black, and the setting is Boston in the 1970s, is critical to the story: although Birdie is sheltered, she is growing up in the middle of ...more
I loved learning a little bit about the race riots and bussing in the 70s in Boston. The beginning of this book took place in my current neighborhood, Roxbury, and it was fascinating to read about how the city was delineated along race lines (and still pretty much is). Great character description of Birdie and her mother and Birdie's relationship with her sister and her attempts to reclaim her identity, both the black and white parts, and her past.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book that takes place
The novel was a bit of a slow read, which may not do it for many people, but the undertones of the material is intense and very real. Cole and Birdie Lee are the daughters of Deck and Sandy. Deck is Black, Sandy is White. Cole is every inch the biracial beauty (brown skin, curly hair, green eyes and Birdie is the ever intriguing child who can "pass".

The story centers around the 60s-70s civil rights movement, which split up the girls (Cole lives with her father and Birdie with her mother) and wha
Tracey Hook
This is one of the most important books of my life. It's what got me through difficult times during grad school- compelling me to work on my thesis and shaping its main character, Geeta. The images remain vivid and the main character, Birdie, is someone I will never forget. A must read for all girls and young women who are trying to find themselves.
Stephanie A. Higa
Three years ago this might have been right up my alley, but now it just didn't really affect me. I liked Senna's "sophomore slump" Symptomatic a lot more-- it tackles similar issues in a more exciting and unique plot. Here, there are too many long passages of nothing really happening but white people making racist jokes about black people...after a while I was like, OK I get it, people are horrible when they think they're alone. Obviously. I know I am.

Caucasia is really, in the end, too much ab
i liked this book so much, but i can't pinpoint the reasons why. it's a bit much-revolutionaries on the run in the 1970s. but i bought it, i really wanted to figure out why mom takes birdie & runs while dad takes cole. what kind of parents split the kids down the middle and disappear?
as someone who has never taken any classes where race relations were addressed in any capacity, i also liked both parents' rants. i particularly liked how dad becomes a sort of prisoner of his intellect towards
Yes, it was, as the New York Times said, “haunting and deeply intelligent” but I can only rate it a high three. It felt both really close to true; and at times, somewhat fraudulent. At times I was reminded of The Glass Castle as the narrator careens around the country with her somewhat deranged mother. The overriding plot device is the bi-racial family in which the narrator lives, her appearance of whiteness versus her sister’s blackness, and racism in America in general. Some mocking of the 70s ...more
Caucasia is the story of two bi-racial sisters and how the decision made by their parents alter their lives.

I found this to be an interesting book because Denzy Senna does a superb job of flavoring her story with an interesting combination of culture, politics and race relationships in a believable manner.

This is a good novel. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys reading about family relationships, radical politics and a coming of age story that is unique because of the family circu

This book is the best. A high stakes adventure: mother and daughter on the lam from not only the feds but also from external and internalized racism and the hegemonic power structures that perpetuate them and infiltrate their lives on multiple, incredibly well-detailed and developed levels!

(view spoiler)

Jessica Riffle
This book was a great show of inequality for more than the "white", "black" and "mulatto" races. It was brilliant read on how more than just one race is discriminated against and how humanity can be cruel. Adding Jewish discrimination was the icing on the cake showing just how far people will go to cause hate towards someone outside of a persons "norm". Birdie was a real trooper to deal with the travesties of one culture to another to another but never forgetting who she was and where she really ...more
Jenny Yates
This powerful, sensitive novel explores the black/white racial divide in the U.S., and does it quite brilliantly. It’s the story of a child living right on that border, dealing with intolerance on both sides - too black to be white, too white to be black.

This novel begins with Birdie’s first memories, and ends with her as a fifteen-year-old. Novels with children as protagonists can be limited or precious, but this one never falls into any of the usual traps. Birdie’s process of becoming more se
This book was so . . . fun. Odd word, considering the subject matter, but I read it while working at my new job, which is located really closely to where the story takes places. The narrator describe old '70's Boston so well that even I, recent transplant that I am, felt like I was seeing the past in her eyes, and following her experiences through very real parts of town. But the story itself is often heart-breaking, as so many of the events seem like barely veiled autobiography -- they are vivi ...more
I read Caucasia at the recommendation of my English teacher. In reading this book, I felt a very personal relation to it, as I am of mixed race. Furthermore, I also have a sister who, like Birdie, takes after our mother with light skin and straight hair. However I, like Cole, take after our father with nappy hair and darker skin, but with light eyes. In having this connection, I can relate to the struggle of finding identity in your race when you do not conform to just one. The story wasn't a co ...more
I picked this book up at my local library and could not put it down for a solid two weeks! Great story, great characters, involving plot. Birdie is the central character, half black and half white she struggles to fit in in the racially divided city of Boston (circa 1970's). Birdie, with straight hair and light skin tone, appears white and her sister appears black. They are separated by their radical parents, Birdie goes with her mom to New Hampshire while her sister moves to Brazil. I really en ...more
The story was so well thought-out and told that I had trouble believing that it was fiction.

In fun news, she was a special faculty member at Holy Cross while we were there and Kristen took a writing class from her!...I have some signed copies of the book!
I really wanted to give this book 5 stars for the subject matter alone: exploring bi-racial identities, especially for youth and young adults, is something that I am deeply interested and engaged in. That said, the book didn't grab me, and I didn't find it riveting. But I also don't think that was the point. The book is subtle, nuanced, textured and thoughtful. There isn't much "action," but the thoughts and movement of the protagonist are rich and deeply moving. Not sure the story line held up ...more
David Anderson
Caucasia is easily one of the best books I've ever read and it is certainly one of the best fictional treatments of that slippery social construction, race, and the equally slippery construction of identity.
Sally Honeycutt
Caucasia is the story of Birdie and her older sister Cole. Birdie and Cole are the children of radically political parents in the late 60's/early 70's. Both girls self identify as Black. However, Birdie looks like their White mother and is typically perceived to be White; Cole takes after their Black father, and the world's perception of her matches her own self image. Dealing with the consequences of their mother's radical political activism sets the two sisters on wildly diverging paths.

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Danzy Senna is an American novelist, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. Her parents, Carl Senna, an Afro-Mexican poet and author, and Fanny Howe, who is Irish-American writer, were also civil rights activists.

She attended Stanford University and received an MFA from the University of California at Irvine. There, she received several creative writing awards.

Her debut novel, Caucasia
More about Danzy Senna...
You Are Free Symptomatic Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience Gumbo A Celebration of African American Writers

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“He began to talk about the fact that race was not only a construct but a scientific error along the magnitude of the error that the world was flat. . . 'And when they discover their mistake, I mean, truly discover it, it'll be as big as when they learned the world was, in fact, round. It'll open up a whole new world. And nothing will ever be the same.” 8 likes
“It’s funny. When you leave your home and wander really far, you always think, ‘I want to go home.’ But then you come home, and of course it’s not the same. You can’t live with it, you can’t live away from it. And it seems like from then on there’s always this yearning for some place that doesn’t exist. I felt that. Still do. I’m never completely at home anywhere. But it’s a good place to be, I think. It’s like floating. From up above, you can see everything at once. It’s the only way how.” 3 likes
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