In Caucasia—Danzy Senna’s extraordinary debut novel and national bestseller— Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother. Look out for Danzy Senna’s latest book, New People, on sale in August! Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother, intellectuals. Maya Jaggi on Danzy Senna’s parable of race, From Caucasia, With Love.
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Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother, intellectuals and activists in the Civil Rights Sennna in s Boston. The sisters are so close that they speak their own language, yet Birdie, with her light skin and straight hair, is often mistaken for white, while Cole is dark enough to fit in with the other kids at school.
One night Birdie watches her father and his new girlfriend drive away with Cole. Soon Birdie and her mother are on the road as well, drifting across the country in search of a new caucasla. But for Birdie, home will always be Cole. Haunted by the loss of her sister, she sets out a desperate cauucasia for the family that left her behind.
There’s her big sister, Cole, who takes after her father, a radical black intellectual. It’s the early seventies, and black-power politics divide their parents, who divide the sisters; Cole disappears with their father, and Birdie goes underground with their mother Senna tells this coming-of-age tale with impressive beauty and power.
Senna superbly illustrates the emotional toll that politics and race take on one especially gutsy young girl’s development as she makes her way through the parallel limbos between black and white and between girl and young woman Senna gives new meaning to the twin universal desires for a lost childhood and a new adult self by recounting Birdie’s struggle to become someone when she can look and act like anyone. A compelling look at being black and being white, Caucasia ccaucasia to be read all over.
Her short fiction and essays have been widely anthologized.
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Caucasia Reader’s Guide
Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in Cxucasia. Crossing Boundaries in North American History. An Account in Words and Pictures. Review “Lucid and magnificent. Riverhead Books; Reprint senja February 1, Language: A Sennz on your Kindle in under a minute.
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Review: From Caucasia, With Love by Danzy Senna | Books | The Guardian
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Birdie and her older sister Cole are daughters of a white mother and a black father, living in Boston in the s. Though the two girls share an impenetrable bond, they begin to realize as they get older that they are divided by how they look: Cole, with her dark skin, fits in with the other girls at their all-black school, while Birdie is light-skinned enough to “pass” as white.
When the girls’ parents get into some trouble, the family splits apart. Their father and his new girlfriend take Cole with them to Brazil, and Birdie goes on the lam with their mother, living on the road for a few years before settling down in rural New Hampshire. With her mother paranoid of the Feds, Birdie is forced to take on a new identity.
From that point forward she is Jesse Goldman, and wears a Star of David around her neck to “pass” as Jewish instead of black.
This allows her to fit in at her New Hampshire school, where the few black students are treated as pariahs. But living this lie and denying her own identity take an inevitable toll on Birdie. Eventually, she runs away to find her father and sister.
Caucasia is a compelling and nuanced coming-of-age story about race, identity and family amid the backdrop of ss America. Birdie is a strong protagonist whose strength and vulnerability carry the narrative. It’s always interesting to read stories like this one that help me see the world through an entirely different lens. One person found this helpful. I have to give Ms. Senna respect for this book.
For it to have been her very first book the writing was brilliant and the storytelling was captivating. This is truly a coming of age tale that shouldn’t be skipped out on as a reader. I felt a lot of times I was right there in the moment with the characters in every setting.
The Birdie Lee character really touched my heart in more ways than one. She was the perfect survivor and I’ll go as far as saying a heroine. My only knock on the book I’m use to many reads of mine having a resolve at the end. When it came to Birdie’s mother I would had liked to know what she was running from. However I’m sure the author wanted to leave that open ended for the readers to decide for themselves why Birdie’s mother went on the run. Other than that, I would highly recommend to all individuals, particularly those who take sociology course s in college or reading for the pure enjoyment.
It is simply one hell of a read. A stunning look into the life of a young mixed-race girl as she tries to find her place in her family, the world, and within herself. Set in the s and early 80s, Birdie’s journey from 8 year old girl to 15 year old young woman, growing up in a highly politicized household is an extraordinarily candid look at both what race is as well as realizing that race is nothing but a society constructed idea. Beautifully executed, Senna’s characters are human and flawed in a way that makes them identifiable and empathetic, even when it is sometimes difficult to like them.
The introductory part of the plot is intriguing and I enjoyed learning about the main character and her unique background. At that point I was completely lost and had no idea where the story was going. I became bored and no longer felt interested in her story. I was initially hooked on because I was wanted to read about the experience of being mixed-race, but the story turns into a 5th grade reading level, coming-of-age story about a girl whose parents are separated.
Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Do you remember when you were little? Mostly, your parents were like the parents of your friends. This little girl did what her parents told her to do, but never felt like she belonged anywhere. Her older sister was her rock in a tumultuous world. Only when Cory was finally found did our heroine find peace.
I thought the theme interracial understanding, adjusting to the perceived politics of the eighties was a subtle undercurrent in the story always just trickling my conscience. This is an amazing read. I downloaded it for my husband for a college class and stated it out of idle interest.
That was 3 days ago. Birdie cannot remember a time when her parents were ever happy. This simple statement of fact paints the reality of Caucasia. After her parents, her Caucasian mother and black father, call it quits, their daughters Birdie, the youngest who looks white, and Cole with her brown skin and curly hair, become pawns to their parents insanity.
Each parent is on the run with the child who most resembles him or her. The story is told through the eyes of Birdie who misses her sister Cole so much that the only thing sustaining her is her belief in their eventual reunion.
After Cole leaves in the middle of the night with Deck, their father, and his new black girlfriend headed for Brazil, “he needs a strong black woman, he’s had enough of the crazy white girl”, Birdie and her mother spend years traveling from one state to another staying one step ahead of the authorities or so her mother believes.
After about 5 years on the run, they settle down in New Hampshire and there they are able to achieve some semblance of a normal life but in order to do this in this overwhelmingly white town, Birdie must pass for white. Senna chronicles Birdie’s life as an adolescent with such grace and power, I could feel her pain. She was placed in an unbelievable situation but she coped and was able to overcome her situation. Deck had a theory called Canaries in the Coal Mine based on the fact that canaries were placed into coal mines to gauge how poisonous the air underground was.
He believed mulattos historically have gauged how poisonous American race relations are. I believe what multiracial individuals can really teach us all is tolerance, and show us how harmful and detrimental our attitudes about race cacasia are. Perhaps they can lead us out of the coal snna. Paraphrasing Walter Mosley in Devil in the Blue Dress, race in America runs both ways, it harms us all socially, financially and most of all spiritually. See all reviews.
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