cover image Going Where I'm Coming from: Memoirs of American Youth

Going Where I'm Coming from: Memoirs of American Youth

Anne Mazer. Persea Books, $28 (180pp) ISBN 978-0-89255-205-4

``To find out who they are and where they're going, the writers of this collection have looked back to where they've come from,'' Mazer (editor of the fiction collection America Street) states in her introduction. Her solid anthology uses 14 entries to explore a commendable range of cultures, including Sioux, Polish, Japanese, Hispanic, African American, Jewish, Indian and Chinese. Lensey Namioka's ``Math and After Math'' wryly contrasts the attitudes of her Chinese parents and those of her American classmates toward math-proficient females. In the wrenching ``Dinnertime,'' Helen Epstein hints at the immense sorrow and strength of her parents, survivors of the Holocaust trying to earn a living and keep their pride in a New York City that cares little about her father's Olympic athlete past or her mother's standing in prewar Prague. Particularly moving is African American jazz musician Willie Ruff's ``A Call to Assembly,'' in which he describes both his joy when a boyhood employer taught him sign language so he could communicate with a deaf co-worker, and his rage and loss of respect when the same boss makes a horrible remark about ``niggers.'' A sturdy, stimulating collection. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)