FINDING GRACE: Two Sisters and the Search for Meaning Beyond the Color Line

Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, Author . Free Press $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7432-0053-0

Haizlip's The Sweeter the Juice described her quest to reunite her African-American mother with Haizlip's aunt who'd passed as white. After the success of Sweeter and a widely publicized family reunion on Oprah , Haizlip assembled this sequel as a meditation on her experience exploring family racial roots. Apart from the epilogue describing her mother's death, however, very little of this book is written by Haizlip. In the first section, she offers a few stories of celebrities (e.g., Carol Channing; a former Queen of England) and lesser-known people with mixed racial origins, intercut with extensive passages from other writers about white privilege, passing and the meaning of race. The second section reprints—unedited—letters from family members describing how they felt about the book's revelations and about being on Oprah . The third section reprints—unedited—letters from fans who loved the book and connected to it in some way. Some have genealogical queries, some need to air racial opinions, some bare their souls about other issues troubling their families, like adoption or religion, and some even submit poems. Since Haizlip doesn't reprint her responses, reading these missives one after another is like thumbing through a stack of mimeographed Christmas letters, full of chatty details about people one doesn't exactly know. Still, it's amazing that Haizlip's book inspired so many people to sit down and write about themselves. If Haizlip's mailbag is any indication, there are many people out there who are curious or worried about their racial identities and very grateful to Haizlip for opening this discussion. Agent, Faith Childs. (Jan. 15)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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