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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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I'm Down: A Memoir Paperback – June 8, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mishna Wolff was one of the 2009 Sundance Screenwriting Lab fellows. She is a humorist and former model, who grew up in Seattle. She lives and writes in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly

Humorist and former model Wolff details her childhood growing up in an all-black Seattle neighborhood with a white father who wanted to be black in this amusing memoir. Wolff never quite fit in with the neighborhood kids, despite her father's urgings that she make friends with the sisters on the block. Her father was raised in a similar neighborhood and—after a brief stint as a hippie in Vermont—returned to Seattle and settled into life as a self-proclaimed black man. Wolff and her younger, more outgoing sister, Anora, are taught to embrace all things black, just like their father and his string of black girlfriends. Just as Wolff finds her footing in the local elementary school (after having mastered the art of capping: think yo mama jokes), her mother, recently divorced from her father and living as a Buddhist, decides to enroll Wolff in the Individual Progress Program, a school for gifted children. Once again, Wolff finds herself the outcast among the wealthy white kids who own horses and take lavish vacations. While Wolff is adept at balancing humorous memories with more poignant moments of a daughter trying to earn her father's admiration, the result is more a series of vignettes than a cohesive memoir. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312379099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312379094
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Beldini VINE VOICE on April 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a great book! Fun, moving, and with a really unexpected ending. Though the promo material highlights her childhood as a white girl in a black neighborhood, this memoir is a more sophisticated story--and more universal story -- of a child who can't find her place in her family. And the most moving aspect of this book is her success in finding a place in the world, and what it ultimately costs her. Yes, it's heartbreaking in places, but it's hysterical in others and most importantly -- the story is compelling. I literally couldn't put this book down and I have the circles under my eyes to prove it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Wow, apart from a bird identification book, this is the very first amazon vine product that I might have purchased in 'real life' and I'm happy to say that this is definitely a worthwhile acquisition.
Before we begin let's establish what this book is not: It is not hilarious or tragic as a cover blurb indicates. It is also not, strictly speaking, truly autobiographical as the author declaims up front something to the effect that many of the things in the book might never have happened and that she uses composites of characters to represent distinct personalities in her story.
What this book is is a very charming, often poignant, quite incisive, well-told story based on the remembrances of a caucasian woman whose childhood was spent living in a deteriorating Seattle neighborhood with a father who chose to 'go black.'
Interestingly, it is also a real testimonial to the quality and effectiveness of the the Seattle public school system and civic organizations in their efforts to provide opportunities to its most promising albeit less privileged (read wealthy) chidren.
The story revolves around a white girl who, along with her younger sister remain in the custody of her ne'er do well father who has fashioned himself a black man in a white man's body. They live in an urban Seattle neighborhood which has become predominantly black; a change that the girls' father revels in.
The author does a wonderful job of describing the struggles and triumphs she experiences as she struggles with the multiple challenges of adolescence; parental divorce; racial comity, difference and divide; and familial and peer group strife.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent memoir . If you get a chance, listen to it on audio ,as read by the author . She is perfect as the "voice" of her dad .
Mishna grew up in an odd sort of situation : she was White, as was her whole family, yet her dad was convinced he was Black. She grew up in a Black neighborhood and went to schools with majority of Black kids . Her Dad was constantly trying to teach her how to fit into this scenario, which she never felt she did .
Her parents divorced when she was young, so at one point, she went to live with her mom, and her mom enrolled her into a "gifted" school program, since she was really smart . She began trying to fit in with the richer group of White kids , and seemed to feel a bit out of the loop in that group too. She didn't want them to know she lived in such a poor neighborhood, and didn't get to do the things most of the other kids did .
So, somehow, throughout all this, she learned to conform and fit into her own space , and possibly feel more comfortable , over time, living in both worlds .
The book is absolutely hilarious ,so she definitely kept a sense of humor about her situation . At the end, you learn that no one has a perfect life , no matter what Race you are or what neighborhood you live in . Everyone has obstacles to overcome in life, and we all need to learn to carve out our own space in the world, just as the author did.
A really GOOD book !
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Overview

Mishna Wolff was born to white hippie parents in Vermont. However, when her family moves back to Seattle, her father drops the pretense of being "a white man" and becomes the "black man" he fancies himself to be. Having grown up in a predominantly black neighborhood during his childhood, Mishna's father immerses himself in the speech patterns, clothing and culture of his black friends. He expects his daughters to do the same. For Mishna's younger sister Anora, this wasn't a problem. However, Mishna has a hard time finding her place in the neighborhood hierarchy of kids. And when her parents divorce and her mom moves out, she finds herself struggling to fit in. Left largely to her own devices, Mishna must find her own way to survive.

When her dad enrolls the girls in summer camp, Mishna is out of her element and regularly terrorized by the other children. But her quick wit and smarts help her find a survival strategy that works for her: capping. Capping is the fine art of "yo mama" jokes where participants engage in trading escalating insults. Mishna excels at capping, and it is her lifeline in the hard-knock world of kid society.

I was becoming a machine--or at least I thought I was. All I know is I had purpose:

1. Me ruling.
2. You sucking.

I had aspirations. I had goals. I had a lot of friends, and a lot of bruises.

But just as Mishna begins to fit in at the neighborhood, her mom steps in and gets her transferred to a school for gifted children. Feeling she has found her place in the world at last, Mishna is excited--even thought attending the school means a long commute on city buses. Alas, although Mishna finds herself with children who have the same skin tone, she is still an outsider.
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