Cover Image: Surviving the White Gaze

Surviving the White Gaze

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.

Rebecca, the daughter of a white mother and black father was adopted by a white hippy family living in rural New Hampshire. She starts off in life feeling loved and cherished, but as she grows more aware of her surroundings and her self--and as her adoptive family tries to meet her needs--her life goes wildly into realms that most of us can't even imagine. Between her adoptive parents and her unusual white mother (I'm being polite calling her unusual) it's amazing that she survives the rest of her childhood. The life she's led is unusual in the range of circumstances she finds herself in as she walks in both the white and black world and tries to find herself as a biracial woman. Somehow and somewhere she got a good amount of grit and in many ways, she comes out on top. Her struggles are very personal and the book is an eye opener in many ways. It's not a book that you say you "enjoyed" per se, but rather one that you feel you are better off for having read it.
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How does a biracial child born to a white woman and her Black partner, but then raised by adoptive white parents in a very-white New Hampshire community, figure out who she is and who she wants to be? Rebecca Carroll's adoptive parents let her meet her biological mom, Tess, when she's 11. As a result, the preteen begins to feel a complicated dance of tug o' war between her three adult parents-- none of them with the same brown skin she has. 
This memoir was un-put-downable, written in such a way that I quickly felt the pain of not really belonging anywhere. Carroll tells truth on every page, and the reader cheers her on as she finds Black friends and negotiates challenging relationships with white people who never really see her in her fullness. This master of language and storytelling is a gift to the world. 
#NetGalley, #SurvivingtheWhiteGaze
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A white couple adopt a black baby, raises that baby to understand she is adopted and free to see her mother when she is ready. The initial meeting is cold and distant, a moment that should have been a opportunity to understand who and how she came to be was stained with the disappointments of a young mother too hurt to give love. A daughter thrust into a life where parents are oblivious to the hurt and isolation Rebecca sustained every day. Left to sift through her middle school and high school life adrift in emotional roller coasters she finds some solace in writing, a lifeline that gave voice to her pain. Her dialogues with her birth mother were especially hard to read. It is clear both mother and daughter were looking to be exceptional in an unrelenting world. There was hate at every turn and very little solace at the end of the day. It wasn’t until she found a depth of courage to listen to her own voice for salvation that she felt peace.
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I received an advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review. What a poignant memoir - different perspective than many out there right now but in a story that needed to be told as it puts in perspective how we treat people that don’t fit on obvious boxes, as well as benign liberal racism. Recommended reading from a wonderful author
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Rebecca is born to a white woman whose partner was a black man, and then given up for adoption at birth to a white family. They live in a white town, she goes to a white school, and for most of her childhood doesn't know any other people with skin the color of hers. Her adoptive parents do not make an attempt to integrate their lives with people of color nor encourage her to explore her Black history.

She meets her birth mother Tess later in childhood. Tess becomes a huge influence in her life, yet Tess has many issues of resentment and anger which she imparts to Rebecca. Rebecca grows up without self-esteem or validation from either her adoptive parents or birth mother.

Her exploration of her racial identity is most of the book. She educates herself and finds her own family of the heart with many love affairs and mistakes along the way.
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Thank you to #NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review.  Surviving the White Gaze is Rebecca Carroll's own story of being adopted by white parents and growing up as the only black person in a rural New Hampshire town.  She met her white birth mother, Tess, when she was in fifth grade.  She did not meet her father, who is black, until later in life.  This memoir is a candid and powerful one that deals with some serious issues like race, adoption and trying to fit in or find your own place when you are different than everyone you know.  Growing up with her adoptive parents, Carroll was loved and cared for and made to feel special but that changed after she met her birth mother.  Tess constantly tried to bring down her self-esteem by telling her that she was not special and she needed to get over feeling like she was.  Tess also tried to undermine Carroll's blackness, going so far as to tell Carroll that she came out of her body and that since she was white, then Carroll had no business calling herself black.  It is no wonder that she began to struggle with eating disorders, drinking and depression.  She was torn between wanting to remain loyal to her adoptive parents while at the same time longing for the acceptance of her birth mother.  In the end, Carroll is able to come to terms with her race and find the love and acceptance she has been looking for.  This is a very good book and I highly recommend it.
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As someone navigating my own biracial roots, this was a fascinating but tough read. Rebecca Carroll’s memoir looks at her years instinctively trying to find her black identity after being adopted into an all-white family and community. Her journey is complicated by the introduction of her white biological mother just ahead of middle school, who undermines and manipulates her for years. The intimate and painful journey—including relationships, depression, and career highs and lows—also introduces her extended chosen family who ultimately help her heal. This moving search for identity and it’s exploration of race may particularly appeal to readers of Shonda Buchanan or Roxane Gay.
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