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BLACK WHITE AND JEWISH

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Rebecca Walker doesn’t use her autobiography to write a scandalous tell-all about growing up with her famous mother, writer Alice Walker — but her divorced parents (her father is Jewish civil-rights attorney Mel Leventhal) don’t escape unscathed. Their custody arrangement had Walker spending two-year intervals with each of them on opposite sides of the country. Now, at 31, their daughter offers painful childhood memories of straddling two vastly different cultures — black bohemia and Jewish suburbia — to fashion a cautionary tale about the power of race in shaping identity: ”Black. White. Nigger. Jew. That makes me the tragic mulatta caught between both worlds like the proverbial deer in the headlights.” Walker’s highly readable debut serves as a condemnation not of a society unable to deal with a biracial child but of the parents who did not heed her cries for help. B+

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