WHITE GIRL: A Story of School Desegregation

Clara Silverstein, Author . Univ. of Georgia $22.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-8203-2662-7

Silverstein set out to tell a story about being the unlikely minority in a politically charged time. In some ways, she succeeds. Her memoir is a delicately told, detailed account of the humiliation she experienced as one of 10 white students in an otherwise all-black junior high school in the early 1970s in Richmond, Va. As if dealing with puberty and her own father's untimely death weren't enough, Silverstein was laughed at and shut down repeatedly, becoming, in effect, a desegregation martyr. Her educational experience highlights the inevitable growing pains that accompany any lofty political idealism. Importantly, Silverstein reveals that it wasn't just the black kids and families who suffered as the buses rolled. Unfortunately, while Silverstein readily retells her painful childhood one small moment at a time, she fails to get at the brutal truth of how this has affected the rest of her life. She hints at it when she admits, "No matter how I look or where I move, there is no escape from my past. My experiences are lodged inside me like splinters of glass." Yet she neglects to explore how the same painful minutiae played out in her later life as a result of those struggles so many years ago. (Sept. 20)

Reviewed on: 07/19/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-0-8203-4509-3
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