Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Read this book!

black and (A)broad: traveling beyond the limitations of identityblack and (A)broad: traveling beyond the limitations of identity by Carolyn Vines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Note: I know Carolyn Vines personally

Carolyn's voice is one that is missing from much of the travel literature that I love to read. She's African-American, came out of a challenging childhood from a racially tense country, and is well-educated, funny, and fearless. Carolyn chronicles the story of her fascinating life from Indiana in the American midwest to Voorschotten, Netherlands. You'll learn alot about how black women think and what struggles they must overcome as Carolyn evolves from the "good daughter" or  "sell-out" black woman (depending on who you talk to) who makes good grades, loves her Spanish classes, and grows up in the 70s and the 80s in the United States. As Carolyn tries to find her own path through racial and gender stereotypes, expectations of the family, community and her own fears, and survives heart-breaking personal tragedies, she evolves personally into her own woman who defines herself as a writer, a loving wife, and happy mother of two beautiful biracial girls living in a bizarre little white country in Northern Europe. Her take on everything from cycling through the rain while trying to keep up standards of having "good black hair" to the intricacies of dealing with Crohn's disease in Dutch toilets will make you laugh, make you sigh, and keep you wondering what is next for her.  Personally, I hope she has a second book in her - I'd like to read more about how her academic research about the role of African women in the Caribbean has shaped her own thoughts on racial identity as an African-American woman living outside of the US. This book touches on that topic many times but I kept wanting more.

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