Charlie's Reviews > Caucasia

Caucasia by Danzy Senna
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Sep 14, 11

Read in April, 2011

In a way, this book makes the reader understand why Mariah Carey said she felt confused as a child about who she was¹. The pain of being neither here nor there for the main character, Birdie, was well written and successfully gets the reader to empathize with her. Sadly, that’s about the only good thing in this book.

Caucasia is split into three sections. The first is about Birdie’s African-American roots and her relationship with her father. The second, about looking caucasian like her mother. And finally, about her finding her place in the world. The first section was more fulfilling because not only are we introduced to Birdie, but we also see how she’s treated by African-Americans, Caucasians and her own family. We see a little girl lost in a sea of racism, favoritism and childish adults.

It is while reading the second part of this novel that the story begins to fall apart. Birdie’s childish demeanor begins to get annoying and every situation she’s placed in is uneventful and even somewhat forgettable. In the last part, as Birdie begins to speak her thoughts out loud, she regains the respect of the reader and shows depth to her character, except the reactions and development of the environment to her newfound character is unsatisfying and lacks the drama. Instead, the novel comes to an unsatisfying conclusion, which leaves the reader hanging and NOT in a good way. Quite honestly, the second and third parts of the novel could be shortened from 230 or so odd pages to about 100 pages.

Surprisingly, as disappointing as this book was, it is still a recommended read. Although the characters were not fully developed, the author’s description of the racial tension in America during the late 60s, 70s and early 80s was perceptive, as she throws you into a world of oppression and ignorance. That, is the winning element in this novel.
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