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The Book of Sarahs: A Family in Parts

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Catherine McKinley was one of only a few thousand African American and bi-racial children adopted by white couples in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Raised in a small, white New England town, she grew up with a persistent longing. After a five-year search marked by disappointment, she finds her birth mother and a half-sister named Sarah, the name originally given to her. ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 25th 2003 by Counterpoint (first published March 1st 2001)
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I read this during a multiracial literature frenzy I went on, most of which consisted of narratives and fictional perspectives from various points of black-white biraciality. This book stood out to me because it has more layers, and deals with more shades of gray more wholeheartedly than other books I came across. It's a story of biraciality in the context of transracial/cultural adoption, and therefore also a coming to terms with family concepts/finding roots story, and all of this occurs on ma ...more
Catherine McKinley grew up in suburban Boston as the adopted half-black child of white parents. She had a very hard time dealing with being “different” from her parents and her adopted brother, who was white. As an adult, she began searching for her birth mother, but ran in to all the usual difficulties – sealed records, uncooperative social workers, etc. Eventually she found her birth mother, Estie Kahn, a Jewish woman who had been hospitalized with mental problems about the time when Catherine ...more
It took me some time to get into this book. When it began I did not feel very interested, then as the story progressed I was sucked into McKinley's journey of self-discovery.

The beginning of the book deals much with her self-loathing and feelings of being an outsider. To me McKinley sounded whiny and ungrateful, but her easy writing style kept me with the novel until the intriguing part of her seeking her birth parents. Once the book moves it carries it's reader through until the very end. You
Sisters of the Desert Sun
Sisters of the Desert Sun met today to discuss "The Book of Sarahs". Catherine E. McKinley was able to translate the pain of longing and self-identity for trans-racially adopted children most effectively. Her story is a powerful one that transcends her unique circumstances and actually speaks to us all regarding the difficulties we face defining ourselves as we come into our adulthood. I don't want to give away what made us keep turning the pages, anxious to find out what happened next. We highl ...more
Allie Mullin
i read an uncorrected proof and was intrigued by catherine's story, but i had some trouble relating to it (i'm multiracial, and grew up in a mixed household and had 'access' to both of my racial identities). i understood her frustration and anger towards her families for what they lacked, and her struggle to solidify her personal identity as she discovered more about these estranged parents and siblings. an interesting read!
May 23, 2008 rebekah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers, mixed people, adoptees, people who like a good story
Recommended to rebekah by: My sister
I loved this book. Made me want to write one too. I love bi-racial personal memoirs. And this one actually had a great true story of how the author's search for family, self, and sexuality formed her into the awesome woman she is today. Very impressed.
Meg Petersen
This was definitely interesting and held my attention through all the plot twists of this real life story. It got me thinking about secrets and how much we want to know about our own origins.
Slow at first, still waiting for the good part, it never really picked up. She really needed to split this story into two books.
She dropped some knowledge on me that gave me moments of contemplation that left me satisfied.
Precious Williams
Read this several years ago. It is soooo well-written and poignant.
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