Surviving the White Gaze

S. & S. Feb. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781982116255. $26. BIOG
Journalist and author Carroll (Sugar in the Raw) was born to a white teen mother and a young Black father, and adopted shortly thereafter. Raised in a small town in rural New Hampshire, Carroll experienced racism from a young age. Her family of well-meaning white artists didn’t anticipate any potential problems with adopting a Black child, and neglected to adequately care for her hair or to discuss issues around race. At age 11, Carroll reconnected with her birth mother and quickly fell into a manipulative, emotionally abusive relationship with her that lasted for decades. Early chapters of this memoir demonstrate Carroll’s ability to write evocatively, as she elegantly interweaves the love and support that she received from her friends, parents, and other adults in their community with the casual white supremacy she experienced every day. As the memoir progresses, however, Carroll speeds through the years, focusing on her romantic relationships and ongoing drama with her birth mother. Ultimately, readers may grow weary of Carroll’s search for external validation and lack of reflection on her role in her problematic relationships.
VERDICT Though sometimes uneven, this personal account may engage fans of memoirs or readers interested in personal stories of adoptees.
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