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Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 12, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
In Danzy Senna's case, her father is well respected in some circles. Her mother is from a long line of socially prominent people but her father's origins are shrouded in conflicting oral histories and unanswered questions. Laying out her paternal history is as complicated as explaining her father. The author has a perfect understanding of white privilege. She applies this to her father, seeing how identity privilege (or the lack of identity) shaped his views. His choices are his own, but informed not only by racism, but also by the complicated vagabond nature of his early existence. The things he has done right, the obstacles he overcame, the heights he achieved, begin to stand as tall as the actions he is completely in the wrong about, the failures he repeatedly has.
How we view ourselves is the second center of WDYSLN.Read more ›
My second reason for a somewhat tepid review was that the author felt to me still primarily captured by the struggles she was describing. Disliking the WASP side of her family constantly talking about their Mayflower heritage and Boston Brahmin roots, she cannot help but display these roots too many times. Her search for her black father's roots was more compelling, but here, she became trapped in the very labels and racist perceptions she struggled with. Everyone is described by a label. The Ukranian Jew. The Pakistani Muslim. I did not feel Ms. Senna was far away enough from the judging everyone by their label that her father taught her. It felt like she was still continually struggling with it and captured by it without real self-perception. It felt that I was hearing from a person still struggling with and in trouble from her experiences, rather than someone who had primarily resolved them.Read more ›
This book was personally meaningful for me, as I have only half of my own family's history, and the other half remains shrouded in complex secrecy. I envy her ability to have found answers to some of the questions about her family's past.
Senna writes about the complicated place that our generation occupies. On the one hand, technology offers access to sources of information not available to earlier generations of adoptees and adult children searching for answers about murky family histories. The lives of the affluent are well-documented in newspapers. Births, deaths, criminal arrests, even their comings and goings in society pages provide a clear path that can be followed by a determined researcher.
Yet the paths of ethnic and impoverished sides of a family are far more difficult to track down, because their lives weren't considered valuable enough to be written about or even mentioned in books and newspapers. Discovering family secrets rests in large part on the willingness of these family members to talk about what they know, and Senna put in a great deal of work tracking people down, meeting them in person, contacting them through the mail. Even after all of this effort, she was still never fully able to find answers to all of her questions.
I highly recommend this book for anyone dealing with these kinds of family and personal issues, those in search of answers to family secrets and histories.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fast shipping, book in good condition. I also really liked this book quite a bit. As someone who reads a lot of mixed race literature, I thought the personal history was quite... Read morePublished 14 months ago by MJ
This book is a must for children who seek answers about the "mysteries" or "secrets" in their
families. Read more
I couldn't finish this book. I read the first third of it and stopped. The author doesn't give any insights. The book is just a series of statements. Read morePublished on June 18, 2013 by MIDC
This memoir is fantastically crafted. Senna draws the reader in instantly. The book is written as part detective story, part history lesson, and part personal revelation and... Read morePublished on December 11, 2011 by LunaSol
Though not a daughter of an interracial marriage, having a very diverse cultural family and my parents divorcing with little to no sense of identity through my father (and his... Read morePublished on October 16, 2011 by S. Brizard
I read this book as a part of a course on life-writing, and it really is not very good. The author's tone is whiny and irritating and the story, while it seems to have the makings... Read morePublished on October 28, 2010 by koliver
Where did you sleep lat night? is a well written and interesting story. If you like personal narratives or life histories even a little you will probably enjoy this book. Read morePublished on May 20, 2010 by N. Burt
This book seemed to be about a woman searching for her identy, but I was confused as if she found her true identy. I really never could get into this story. Read morePublished on February 18, 2010 by Mona Lisa
Danzy Senna has written a very dark and brooding book about the search for her family roots. Senna is the daughter of Boston blue bloods and poor southern blacks. Read morePublished on February 7, 2010 by papaphilly