A novel written by Danzy Senna. The narrator, Birdie Lee, is a young half-black-half-white
girl growing up in the 1970s
. She speaks a made-up language with her sister Cole and is home schooled for much of her early life. A radical action on her mother's part leads to the two sisters becoming separated and trying to find their way back to each other. The book deals with the issues of race, passing, sisterhood and belonging.
This book provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Brown: Birdie and Cole due to their heritage.
- Everyone Is Bi
- Everything Is Racist: Deck Lee, Birdie and Cole's father often falls victim to this, but is only amused when presented with a legitimately racist blackface doll.
- Fake Nationality
- Informed Judaism: Invoked by Birdie's mother. When the two are on the lam, their new identities are Jewish, but neither of them know very much about Judaism. Birdie wears a cheap Star of David and her mother occasionally calls her meshugga in public. When settling down in a new place they sometimes forget that they're supposed to be Jewish in the first place.
- Mixed Ancestry: Both Birdie and Cole, although Birdie looks more like her (white) mother and Cole resembles her (black) father. This crops up as an issue time and time again and eventually leads to the two sisters splitting ways.
- Pass Fail: A main theme of the book.
- Pretend Prejudice: Despite the fact that Deck sees almost everything white people do as racist and oppressive, he did after all marry a white woman and a large number of his friends are white.
- Racist Grandma: Birdie and Cole's maternal grandmother is one of these. She strongly disapproves of her daughter's choice in marriage and ignores the darker-skinned Cole in favor of her whiter and straight-haired sister.
- Scary Minority Suspect: On an outing to the park, the police suspect Birdie's father of abducting her because of his dark skin.