A young girl learns some difficult lessons in Danzy Senna's debut novel Caucasia. Growing up in a biracial family in 1970s Boston, Birdie has seen her family disintegrate due to the increasing racial tensions. Her father and older sister move to Brazil, where they hope to find true racial equality, while Birdie and her mother drift through the country, eventually adopting new identities (Sheila and Jesse Goldman) and settling in a small New Hampshire town.
Birdie/Jesse tries to find her niche in this new world of eye shadow and gossip and boys, but she also wants to remain true to herself and find a common ground between her white and black heritage. She sets out to find her sister and reconnect with that part of her that has been lost for so long; the search takes her far from the settled, safe life she had in New Hampshire to a far more ambiguous, and unsettled, existence, one in which her own definitions of herself become muddled, and her search for her sister leads ultimately to a search for her own true identity. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
YA-The time is the 1970s, the place is Boston, and the story is of a biracial marriage and the two little girls born of it. Cole, the first child, preferred by both parents, is beautifully black like her father. Birdie, the narrator, is light enough to pass as white. The wife is a "bleeding heart liberal" who has involved herself in civil rights causes against the wishes of her intellectual husband. Finally, the marriage ruptures. A general breakdown ensues when a gun-running political activity precipitates the need for the family to disappear. Cole is taken off to Brazil with her father to begin a new life in a black environment more open to people of color. Birdie is caught up in a series of wrenching deprivals when her mother insists on the need to go underground. There is a change of location, name, appearance, and in Birdie's case, a change of race; she is to pass as white. Money shortages, a complete lack of stability, the loss of a sister almost a twin, a feeling of displacement, the strains of adjustment, no sense of community or relationship, and the growing suspicion that her mother is psychotic make for disturbing adolescent years. Throughout, Birdie keeps alive her need to connect with her father and sister, and faces the knowledge that the liability of her sister's blackness to her mother and her own unwelcome whiteness to her father has brought the family to this sorry situation. It is her courage, her optimism, and her inherent loyalty that brings about a satisfying reunion for the sisters.
Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It was a refreshing change to read a book written in the late 1990s before iPhones, Google, and driving apps were available. Read morePublished 22 hours ago by ahammerquilts
I had to read this book over the summer entering 11th grade. I was not disappointed. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more books from Danny Senna.Published 9 days ago by Ido K.
a poignant perspective of racial inequality throughout the life of a "passing" white mixed girl running from her parents' mistakes until she takes her life into her own... Read morePublished 13 days ago by brandi bramblett
I just finished reading Caucasia and it was one of the best books I have ever read. I am recommending it to everyone. There were only two drawbacks in the book. Read more
I liked Caucasia a lot. It worked particularly well to follow The Glass Castle in our book group--interesting parallels. I am excited to hear the discussion in a couple weeks.Published 6 months ago by S. McCracken
Cole and Birdie reminded me so much of Paige and Pinch from More Like Wrestling (Danyel Smith)...Published 8 months ago by The Prissy Snob
Very powerful topic. I enjoyed it but was disappointed in the ending.Published 8 months ago by prpl trtl
"Why Are White People Called Caucasian?" Nell Irvin Painter http://www.yale.edu/glc/events/race/Painter.pdfPublished 9 months ago by FJNanic