Sherry Lee's Reviews > The Grace of Silence: A Memoir

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris
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's review
Jan 01, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

I have been wanting to read THE GRACE OF SILENCE for some time having grown up in what I call South Scandinavian Minneapolis-a Black/Chinese girl passing for white. Although Michele Norris didn't delve into growing up in South Minneapolis as much as I was hoping, I wasn't disappointed.

She recorded history that made me realize there is so much I don't know. Her attention to detail has given me much to question-especially how different was it for my Chinese father, who also served in the Navy during World War II, than it was for her father? My father went to every Navy reunion he could. He was a dispatcher, why wasn't he relegated to cook? My father had two young children at home, yet he volunteered to enlist at a time when the war was almost over. What didn't my father tell me?

I was born in 1948. I came of age in the 60s. I'd like to think my mother's silence was "the grace of silence"-but was it? I couldn't go to football games at other schools because there might be a race riot-but what was race? What was a riot? On television I saw people dressed in white sheets and fires burning, but what did it have to do with me?

I have spent my life trying to know who I am based on race, gender, class, etc. I know myself well, yet after reading THE GRACE OF SILENCE by Michele Norris, I realize I have more to understand based on what I didn't know I didn't know. I am a writer. I believe in conjuring stories and recording them. Certainly for ourselves to gain a better understanding of who we are, but also for others because they are listening and learning and relating.

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