Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Apologize.......and, I'm Down by Mishna Wolff

I'm a day late.  I apologize for that.  We got back from a very lovely vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina yesterday afternoon, and though I had been reminding myself all day that it was, indeed, Monday, my brain was too slow to realize that Monday meant book blog post day.  Sometimes my brain is slow (and I will immediately delete any comments to that effect from my brother, so don't even think about it Joshua).  Regardless, because it was vacation and my husband did all the driving I finished two books and half of another.  Here's the review for the most light-hearted of the three:

If you've ever wondered what it's like to grow up poor in Seattle, this book can give you a pretty good idea.  If you've ever wondered what it's like to grow up poor and white in Seattle with a father who sees himself as black (despite a lack of skin pigmentation), this book can give you a pretty good idea.  Mishna and her sister were born to hippy parents in New England, but were raised by their father in the poverty-stricken neighborhood of his youth.  Upon moving back to Seattle, their father re-adapted to his surroundings and became the soul brother he was growing up.  When Mishna's parents divorce, it's decided that the girls will stay with their father while their mother continues to work long hours. 

The book chronicles Mishna's struggles to fit in around her neighborhood and her struggles to fit in with her privileged classmates at the private school she attends.  Too white for her neighborhood and too poor for her school, her childhood is made all the more difficult by her constant attempts to prove herself to her father.  She tries to be "down" to make him proud, tries to be more middle-class to fit in with her classmates, and tries to be more ethnic to fit in with the kids in her neighborhood; ultimately never completely succeeding at any of her attempts.  But she doesn't fail completely either.

There are some very funny moments of track practices, being the smallest and whitest girl on her basketball, figuring out how to establish herself in summer "camp."  She is very quick to point out that these are the facts as she saw them growing up, that time and perspective may have told her a different story but these are the memories she has from her youth.  There is also quite a bit of family drama.  Eventually Mishna ends up living with her mother while her sister remains with their father.  It was easy to see that these decisions about family, money, lifestyles, and personal growth weren't easy for anyone involved.  It was often touching to read about the this family in a tough situation still loving one another as best as they could.

I found the ending a little abrupt and almost anti-climatic, but this is a problem I have with many chronological memoirs.  I understand I can't blame the author for not embellishing or nicely tieing things up (as life doesn't always work that way) but I always want something different from the end it seems.  This reminds me of a review of the movie "Ray" my friend *Jay gave.  He said he liked the movie but didn't like the way it ended.  Being obnoxious and having not yet seen the movie I said, "Well, I don't think he can help it that he died."  I thought it was funny.  Jay gave me the stink eye.  And now I know what Jay meant. 

I recommend you pick up I'm Down the next time you're in the bookstore - if for nothing else, for the cover art.  And don't blame me if you don't like the way it ends.  Don't blame Mishna or Ray Charles either. 

*Jay is an excellent friend and a superb movie critic.  However, based upon the company he keeps, it's clear he has issues. Pin It

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