Schnee in Alabama.
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Schnee in Alabama.

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  4,040 ratings  ·  432 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.
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Published July 1st 2001 by Lübbe (first published February 2nd 1998)
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T.J.
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...more
fletch
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...more
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
Anne
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
Jamelah
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
Vaughn
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...more
Raven
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
Carol
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
Emma
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
Julie
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
Rocio
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...more
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...more
tina
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...more
Jean
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
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
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...more
Heather
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!
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.
Jane
I must say that for an academic orientated book, this is too good to be true. I thought it was exceptional, beautiful, sad, raw, and too real. It is safe to say how ignorant I was before I was encouraged to read about the civil rights movement in the US. I didn't know this was going on and how dangerous and ugly things were back there. I didn't know how important 'race' was and the hardship of a person stuck in the middle.

I just wrote an essay about this book, discussing Race and Identity, and I...more
Margie
Worth reading, and worth discussing. This would be a good book for a reading circle.
Alison
So good it was hard to put down.
Kristen Lemaster
I loved the poetic, dreamlike imagery throughout this book, how it reinforced the ephemera of "home" and blurred those lines between stereotypical white people and stereotypical black people. In some places the language was so true, so genuine, that I found myself reading the line again and again; in others, however, I only skimmed the text, recognizing the same words, reading the same thoughts, wondering how in some parts the plot could seem so stagnant. Birdie was an adorable character and a g...more
Brit
My teacher reccomended me this book and I decided to read it because it sound really good. Caucasia is about a family with a black husband, a white mother and two mixed sisters. The sisters and the family are split up after problems the mother and father caused with the government and it is about Birdie (the youngest siter who looks white) and her life journey while on the run. This book is during a time when America was still racist and really has an impact on the reader. I liked how it was thr...more
Mely
Birdie Lee and Cole Lee, daughters of a black academic and a white radical, are separated when their mother's involvement in radical politics gains FBI attention: Cole, who looks black, goes off with their father and his new (black) girlfriend to Brazil (their father says he is sick of America), and Birdie, who looks white, is sent off with their mother to pass as white and part-Jewish. The best part of the book covers the girls' childhood and education; subsequent parts, skimming over Birdie's...more
Carolt
The book "Caucasia" is about two young girls who were separated from each other because of their parents marriage falling apart. Their father was an African American and their mother was a white. Birdie and Cole were the names of the two sisters, as Birdie followed her mother's skin color, being creamy white whist Cole was dark like her father, and was able to fit in the Afrocentric School. As the two sisters were quite close, it was very hard for them when Cole and her father moved to Brazil to...more
Rachelmallinga
Oct 01, 2008 Rachelmallinga rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high school students, book clubs.
Recommended to Rachelmallinga by: Rebecca
**Spoilers***
I think i read this more as a memoir than a novel, which i think was my problem in the first place. Granted, I feel being mixed, i may compare this book to my own experience or experiences that i shared with other biracial/multi ehnic people so i may have had a prejudice while reading this. For some reason that the explanation that the father wanted to marry his wife feeling that biracial children will combat racism. It's kinda like the idea that Philippa Schuyler's parents had.
B...more
Jess
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...more
Jared Tester
Whose children are we?

This question kept returning to me as I flew through Danzy Senna's moving, thoughtful debut novel, the story of Birdie and Colette "Cole" Lee, mixed - race siblings torn apart by their parents' separation.

It's a split forced by fear of criminal prosecution, and the story is told by Birdie, the younger daughter. "Caucasia" is set mainly in America's 1970s and 1980s radical underground as Birdie goes on the run with her mother, a left - wing activist. The Lees' younger daught...more
Katie Kroutil_butler
This book "Caucasia" by Danzy Senna to me was a real eye opener. Even though this book is fiction, it really appeals to ones eye on the aspect of race. To read about how differently one sister is acted towards than another because of her appearance was pretty sad to think about. Her sister Cole, three years older than Birdie, the main character, was this light skinned, lighter haired women who got more attention due to theses characteristics. While reading this novel, I could feel my skin hummin...more
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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
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.” 7 likes
“I wondered if whiteness were contagious. If it were, then surely I had caught it. I imagined this “condition” affected the way I walked, talked, dressed, danced, and at its most advanced stage, the way I looked at the world and at other people.” 1 likes
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