Friday, July 29, 2016

See No Color, by Shannon Gibney

At the age of sixteen, Alex is struggling with the growing dissonance between what she is trying to be and who she thinks she is.  She's a black girl adopted into a white family -- neither black nor white.  She's trying to live up to her father's dream of her becoming an excellent baseball player, even as her developing body betrays her.  And she's discovering that her changing body yields surprising strengths along with disappointments.

An interesting and often uncomfortable book about identity.  I squirmed through passages in this novel where Alex pondered how the "black mind" differed from the white one, but I understood her struggle.  Like her adoptive family, I'd like to maintain the position that race is irrelevant, but Gibney gives no quarter on this and points out (I believe correctly) to the damage that silencing difference brings.  Told through both gentle episodes (like one in which Alex gets her hair properly handled for the first time) and more striking ones (as when Alex tries to prevent her black boyfriend from meeting her white family). Gibney explores all sorts of elements of transracial adoption.  Not content to simply focus on the racial issues, sexuality and gender differences are also invoked. The novel, in sum, pushes all sorts of buttons and is ripe for discussion and explorations.  I found it fascinating.

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