Amy Keyishian's Reviews > Black White and Jewish

Black White and Jewish by Rebecca Walker
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's review
Mar 17, 2010

it was ok
Read from March 04 to 16, 2010

Ech, I don't know what to think. I'm not so naive as to expect novelist Alice Walker to be a perfect person, but her daughter's tale of being left alone as an early teenager for days and even weeks at a time, eating fast food and schtupping for comfort, made me want to tear my hair out. On the other hand, there were amazing benefits to her upbringing -- an amazing private high school, jobs and internships that were surely easier for her to access given her mom's reputation -- that she comes off as a little ungrateful, as well.

I want to like her, but she keeps making it difficult for me. She never quite gives herself to her story; her style of writing is episodic, minimalist, and she picks up little pieces of story, blurts them out without preamble or followup, and then moves on to the next subject. She storms out of her father's home, choosing to live with her mother. But given the benefit of years, how does she feel about it now? Does she have more sympathy for him and for the stepmother who was clearly dear to her at certain points -- or is she still estranged? She talks about an obsessive relationship with a boyfriend in high school, describing how they flew between LA and SF every weekend, and then just drops the thread -- after declaring that her teachers saved her life that year, I'm left wondering: what did they do? Did the boyfriend get schmucky?

The woman needs an editor who can stand up to her! My sense is that she wrote this book and said "publish it as is, dammit. I won't have my voice compromised," and because her mom is Alice Walker, someone did. And she seems entirely blind to this possibility.

I'm set to read her next memoir, about motherhood, and friends already tell me I'll run up against the same problems. Ah well. At least this one was full of San Francisco scenes I found familiar and fun to read.

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Reading Progress

03/04/2010 page 40

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