The Golden Road: Notes on My Gentrification

Caille Millner, Author
Caille Millner, Author . Penguin Press $22.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-59420-109-7
Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-14-311297-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 256 pages - 978-1-4295-5368-1
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4295-5367-4
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For most of us," writes 27-year-old journalist Millner in her sober, disheartening memoir about upward mobility in northern California, "Harvard was our first, and possibly last opportunity to be part of a substantial black community." Millner learns early on the pitfalls of identity-seeking—"I was a natural failure by the standards of virtually every paradigm of community currently in favor in America"—and instead assumes the role of participant-observer. Whether in California, on the East Coast or in South Africa, she is painfully and sometimes humiliatingly an outsider, which also liberates her to critique. In microbiographies, she describes the people in her life: her father, a professor increasingly disillusioned by higher education; Jaime, a "Mexican-from-Mexico" who didn't know his place; George, whose class struggle reflected Millner's class privilege; Spencer, a Harvard blue blood with faux activist cred. Millner disdains upper-middle-class life and values, such as obsessive academic and monetary competition ("one of the few ways I could relax enough to eat was by using drugs"). Her style is mostly functional, with some memorable literary passages that hint at mastery to come. Given its insider approach to the many Americans who are finding identities outside their prescribed groups, her highly accessible memoir is worth the read. (Feb. 15)

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