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Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural Paperback – June 9, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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  • Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New Yorker O'Hearn, who was born in Hong Kong of an Irish-American father and a Chinese mother, first tells her own story?she found she could pass as Hawaiian, Italian or even Russian?then goes on to collect first-person accounts of 17 others with biracial or bicultural backgrounds who grew up in the U.S. or emigrated here. The multicultural combinations are complex and varied: a woman with a Chinese-Jamaican mother and a Chinese-American father, a man with an English father and a Jamaican mother ("They are not two shades of brown. They are black and white"), a woman with a mother from Brooklyn and a father from Bombay. Other contributors do not have a racially mixed background but write as strangers in a strange land: a South Vietnamese who escaped by boat and grew up in Southern California; a Hindu from Calcutta who attends school in America. Others reflect Mexican, Iranian and Japanese cultures. The names of some of the contributors are familiar?Gish Jen, Bharati Mukherjee, James McBride, Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Lisa See?but many are not, and although the tone throughout ranges from bitter and self-absorbed to satirical, most reveal a quiet sense of humor. Several of the entries have been published previously in anthologies or magazines.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7^-12. Where are you from? When do you use "we" ? The answers aren't simple for the 18 writers of these personal essays who live and work in the U.S. but aren't sure where they belong. Some are immigrants; most are children or parents of biracial, bicultural families. In her introduction, editor O'Hearn (part Irish American, part Chinese) says she is always a foreigner, wherever she is ("Suspended, I can go anywhere but home"). David Mura writes with tenderness about his daughter: he is third-generation Japanese American, his wife is WASP and a small part Jewish; he sees little of his family's mixed race and culture reflected in the media. Danzy Senna's hilarious parody ("Make Mulattos, not War") says it clearly: multiculturalism is about dealing with racism and power, not about plates of ethnic food. Other contributors include the well-known writers Gish Jen and Francisco Goldman and novelist Julia Alvarez, who makes the point that Latinos as a group embrace many races and differences. Whether they feel part of the mainstream or on the edge, many teens will find themselves in these eloquent memoirs that speak about coming of age and finding a place to call home. Hazel Rochman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (June 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375700110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I received this book as a gift from a mentor in undergraduate school. It has brought so much to me in terms of understanding my experiences as a biracial person, especially growing up in a rural mostly white town. This book is also great for people who want to know what struggles we face as we try to define ourselves both as individuals and as members of society. There are also some wonderful stories written by parents of biracial and bicultural children that speak to their worries, fears and hopes for their offspring. I found those stories particularly amazing because they speak to the differences between children and their parents. Overall, this book is a collection of stories that unifies the experience of falling somewhere in between.
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Format: Paperback
received this book as a gift from a mentor in undergraduate school. It has given so much to me in terms of understanding my experiences as a biracial person, especially growing up in a rural, mostly white town. This book is also great for people who want to know what struggles we face as we try to define ourselves both as individuals and as members of US society. There are also some wonderful stories written by parents of biracial and bicultural children that speak to their worries, fears and hopes for their offspring. I found those stories particularly amazing because they speak to the differences between children and their parents. I appreciate the attention to the multicultural perspective and the way the authors weave many aspects such as socio-economic status, culture, gender and sexuality into their stories. Overall, this book is a collection of experiences that unifies the reality of those of us who fall somewhere in between dichotomized racial constructs.
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Format: Paperback
As a Puerto Rican American who looks 'mixed' because of the ethnicities that make up my Caribbean background (Spainard, African, Taino), I 'wholely' related to 'Half & Half.' Even though I am culturally 'whole' Puerto Rican, I was asked the question 'What are you?' all my life. To further compound this, my race on my birth certificate reads 'white,' an error applied to Hispanics born in '60s. I struggled with my Spanish language, married an African-American because I identified more with his culture, and at one point denied my background for the sake of my sanity. This book teaches you that the issues with one's appearance, language, and background are attributed more to people's misconceptions than one's perceptions. As Phillipe Wamba, one of the contributing authors wrote (in 'Half & Half'): 'It is difficult to define yourself when others are so eager to do it for you.' Until we all learn to identify each other as individuals ('who' we are), instead of emphasizing 'what we are,' we will continue to struggle for acceptance in this multicultural world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. O'Hearn put together a wonderful group of people who share experiences, thoughts, and feelings about being minority in U.S. of A. By the end of the book, though, I, aperson whose family threads stretch to four corners of the globe, felt, instead of the disconnected, alienated, not belonging, a sense of connection, a tremendous identification, if not on every detail, in at least one aspect of each persons experience. For those who aren't as fortunate as I am, to have family members of multi (race, religion, culture), this will give you a glimpse on how you too can erase borders. For those of us who have felt "different", these wonderful writers connect you with stories, poetry of words, humor, so deftly that you can smell the spices in some of the essays. I read in one day because I couldn't put it down. Thank you, Ms. O'Hearn, and the other writers for this piece of work.
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Format: Paperback
When I purchased this book 2 years ago, during my sophomore year of college, I was also struggling with my bi-racial identity. (Not that this struggle ever ends). As half Pakistani and half British...brought up in America I found this book to be very close to my heart and a godsend. I only wish there was more literature out there like this. It helps people like me because we can now see that there are others out there like us. I would personally like to thank Claudine O'Hearn for her wonderful project.
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Format: Hardcover
This collection of essays from well known contemporary "ethnic" writers takes the reader through myriad of racial and cultural "combinations" and the results of those combinations. For those who come from a bicultural or biracial background, you will find yourself nodding in agreement with some of the issues tackled by each of the authors. For those who are merely looking for a fascinating read, this book will open your mind to the issues that confront a sector of the American population which is often ignored or discounted. From the book, the reader senses how the need for us to categorize people neatly in racial/ethnic boxes can affect a whole generation of Americans who identify with 2 or more ethnic groups. This is a must read for people who want to stay in tune with the social trends of the ethnic potpourri that is the 90's.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As many others have said, this book was a wonderful and welcome reminder of the many common experiences mixed race and culture people share. While I did feel a generational divide–many of my mixed race friends and I are less enamored with the promise of some utopic mixed race future–I felt represented in this book in a way I have felt in only one or two others in my life. I would recommend this to many friends and acquaintances, as the writing is engaging and rich, but it has, I feel, special significance and value for those of us caught between identities groups.

In the hopes that these reviews do eventually reach publishers, I have a complaint and request:
Kindle's lending capabilities are, in general, limited, but this book cannot be lent at all. My and the other reviews on this page are clear testimonials to this book's power to do more than entertain. In such instances, and particularly when a book's primary audience may lack material resources (as is the case with many racial minorities), the inability to lend a book is incredibly frustrating.
I have multiple friends without access to this book in a library, but who have responsibilities and needs that do not allow them to spend $12 on pleasure reading. In most cases, they can move on, choose another book. In this case, however, there aren't other books. Many mixed race/culture individuals have VERY FEW opportunities to consume media in which they are represented, much less media that provides a variety of different personal perspectives on a common experience. This is the only anthology I have found with an ebook available: PLEASE enable lending so that I can share it with others who need to read it!
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