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

Picador. Feb. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9781250133557. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781250133564. SOC SCI
OrangeReviewStarMehra (The Pomegranate King) blends memoir and cultural analysis to dive into the complex realities of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and the constructs that surround these topics. Told through the lens of Mehra's experience as the first-generation daughter of Indian immigrants, raised in a predominantly white neighborhood in Tennessee, this work wrestles with the author's own privilege as she examines the narratives of her youth, her sexuality, her relationship with her parents, her wife, Jill, and her black son, Shiv, whose expression of gender inspires a new awareness of Mehra's own unconscious biases. It is through her relationships that Mehra learns and grows, the process sometimes painful as she bumps against rigid expectations, including those of her father. Her experience of adoption is especially inspiring, as is her account of Shiv's exploration of gender.
VERDICT Mehra's nuanced and thought-provoking work resonates on multiple levels—from the immigrant experience and race relations to accepting one's sexuality, adoption, parenthood, and more. Excellent for readers interested in family and issues of identity in America.
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