Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion

Nishta J. Mehra. Picador, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-250-13355-7
Mehra, a teacher, reflects on her experience as a lesbian daughter of Indian immigrants with an interracial family in this thoughtful memoir-in-essays. Mehra’s parents emigrated from India and raised her in “upper-class Memphis.” Weaned on Madonna and Murphy Brown, Mehra wryly describes navigating adolescence as “a brown girl in a white world”: “could I dress up [for Halloween] as Cher from Clueless, or would everyone automatically assume I should go as Dionne, who was black?” As a 19-year-old college student, she fell in love with Jill, her professor; about a decade later, the couple adopted a black child at birth. Mehra brings that now-5-year-old child, Shiv, to vivid life in affectionately rendered details—Shiv’s insistence on saying pre-dinner grace (often reminding both forgetful parents), the colorful outfits, the poop jokes, the moments of admitted longing for birth parents. Mehra also documents careful thought processes and interrogates her own assumptions and knee-jerk impulses around parenting, social interactions, and self-presentation. She looks at experience in a measured, nuanced way, empathizing with both marginalized people and the dismayed parents of gay kids who have just come out, and notably with her father, who wanted her to have long hair and marry a man. This insightful, searching book will appeal to anyone contemplating race, family, or growing into oneself. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2018
Release date: 02/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-250-29571-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-31873-2
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