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A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America. Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population grow A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America. Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older. Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen black family, she was able to heal. Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.


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A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America. Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population grow A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America. Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older. Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen black family, she was able to heal. Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.

30 review for Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    Surviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll is the anatomy of the life of a black woman, and the complex constellation of the people who made her — her white adoptive parents, her white birth mother, and the black father she meets much later in life. It is a moving narrative about what it means to try to find your place and make sense of who you are as a black woman while surrounded by the pervasive influence of whiteness. Carroll’s memoir is intelligent, melancholic, and searching. She reveals Surviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll is the anatomy of the life of a black woman, and the complex constellation of the people who made her — her white adoptive parents, her white birth mother, and the black father she meets much later in life. It is a moving narrative about what it means to try to find your place and make sense of who you are as a black woman while surrounded by the pervasive influence of whiteness. Carroll’s memoir is intelligent, melancholic, and searching. She reveals that just past survival, it is possible to find peace, and joy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    This book is stellar. Carroll has a gift of writing beautifully without writing pretentiously. Her style is natural and profound. This story of Blackness, racism, abuse, manipulation, self and so much more was deeply moving. Carroll doesn’t play up trauma but instead examines it and allows her reader to unpack and decide for themselves. I am impressed with the strength and vulnerability in this story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Rebecca Carroll, born in 1969 to a teenage black father and teenage white mother, was adopted by a white married couple, friends to the biological mother. Raised in New Hampshire in a predominantly white community, she had no sense of her own black identity. This book follows her in her search for this identity--through her childhood, puberty and sexual awakening, into her thirties. She had become an author. Now determined to get married and have a child, she quickly does both. In coming to grips Rebecca Carroll, born in 1969 to a teenage black father and teenage white mother, was adopted by a white married couple, friends to the biological mother. Raised in New Hampshire in a predominantly white community, she had no sense of her own black identity. This book follows her in her search for this identity--through her childhood, puberty and sexual awakening, into her thirties. She had become an author. Now determined to get married and have a child, she quickly does both. In coming to grips with her biracial background, the fraught relationships with not only her adoptive and biological parents but also teachers, so-called friends and a long string of sexual partners are focused upon. Rebecca’s liberal, adoptive parents had an “open marriage.” Sexual encounters are many and take up a large portion of the text. Not just sex, but also clothes and makeup and hairstyles and how pretty, sexy or cool one looks is / was apparently ever so important to Rebecca. I would say that the book is in a way written for a teenage audience…..to which I do not belong! This memoir reads as narrative non-fiction. There are details and dialogues that simply cannot be remembered—they must be invented. This book was recently written, now when the author is in her fifties. Does she really remember that her teenage boyfriend smelled of “melon and soap and butter?!” The text reads as fiction. Being autobiographical, the views expressed are the author’s own. I was uncomfortable with this; on many occasions I could see how one might reason differently. The author’s opinions do give the reader food for thought, but I do not necessarily take what she says as being correct. Rebecca’s jobs and career get much less attention than her sex life. There is so much missing! The author reads her own book. It is easy to follow, but her tone is flat. Three stars for the narration. This book was merely OK for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    MissBecka Gee

    This was just okay for me. Her introspective search for how she fits into society (while straddling two worlds) was very interesting. I wish she would have delved deeper. It's a memoir, so of course she shared what she was comfortable with, but how she wrote it felt superficial. Still something I would recommend since the content is important, but go in with lower expectations on the writing and maybe you will end up loving it? Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for my DRC. This was just okay for me. Her introspective search for how she fits into society (while straddling two worlds) was very interesting. I wish she would have delved deeper. It's a memoir, so of course she shared what she was comfortable with, but how she wrote it felt superficial. Still something I would recommend since the content is important, but go in with lower expectations on the writing and maybe you will end up loving it? Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for my DRC.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jami

    Surviving The White Gaze is an absolute gift to the reader: unputdownable, edifying, deeply moving, the works. Rebecca Carroll gives us a candid and singular memoir of race, adoption and family in America, one that is both intimate and universal in its storytelling. It's also a witty and riveting portrait of the youthful emergence of one of our finest critics and thinkers – a highly rewarding journey to share. Surviving The White Gaze is an absolute gift to the reader: unputdownable, edifying, deeply moving, the works. Rebecca Carroll gives us a candid and singular memoir of race, adoption and family in America, one that is both intimate and universal in its storytelling. It's also a witty and riveting portrait of the youthful emergence of one of our finest critics and thinkers – a highly rewarding journey to share.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    I have thoughts on this one and....😬. I’m well aware that this is someone’s truth, so I’ll be gentle with my final thoughts.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a deeply moving and enlightening novel based on the life of a black woman who was adopted and grew up in a white family. Not only was her family white but so was everyone else else in her community and school. Her family chose to treat her as she was no different then their biological children but that meant they didn’t even learn how to take care of her hair let alone teach her anything of her culture, history or challenges. The author wrote this memoir with truth and clarity, sharing t This is a deeply moving and enlightening novel based on the life of a black woman who was adopted and grew up in a white family. Not only was her family white but so was everyone else else in her community and school. Her family chose to treat her as she was no different then their biological children but that meant they didn’t even learn how to take care of her hair let alone teach her anything of her culture, history or challenges. The author wrote this memoir with truth and clarity, sharing the pain that racism caused her but also the utter disappointment and hurt her biological mother dumped on her. As a mother I could not fathom how Tess could do this to Becky. This book broke my heart and opened my eyes to the ignorance that still exists towards people of colour. I am glad that the author found the strength to write this book and share her story with us. A must read for everyone. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for the opportunity to read this important book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daphne Manning

    A white couple adopt a black baby, raises that baby to understand she is adopted and free to see her mother when she is ready. The initial meeting is cold and distant, a moment that should have been a opportunity to understand who and how she came to be was stained with the disappointments of a young mother too hurt to give love. A daughter thrust into a life where parents are oblivious to the hurt and isolation Rebecca sustained every day. Left to sift through her middle school and high school A white couple adopt a black baby, raises that baby to understand she is adopted and free to see her mother when she is ready. The initial meeting is cold and distant, a moment that should have been a opportunity to understand who and how she came to be was stained with the disappointments of a young mother too hurt to give love. A daughter thrust into a life where parents are oblivious to the hurt and isolation Rebecca sustained every day. Left to sift through her middle school and high school life adrift in emotional roller coasters she finds some solace in writing, a lifeline that gave voice to her pain. Her dialogues with her birth mother were especially hard to read. It is clear both mother and daughter were looking to be exceptional in an unrelenting world. There was hate at every turn and very little solace at the end of the day. It wasn’t until she found a depth of courage to listen to her own voice for salvation that she felt peace.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir Author: Rebecca Carroll Publisher: Simon & Schuster Publication Date: February 2, 2021 Review Date: January 24, 2021 From the blurb: “A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America. Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents wh Book Review: Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir Author: Rebecca Carroll Publisher: Simon & Schuster Publication Date: February 2, 2021 Review Date: January 24, 2021 From the blurb: “A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America. Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older. Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen black family, she was able to heal. Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.” ——— I looked over the reviews by NetGalley readers, and they were primarily in the 3-5 star range. I had a very different take on the book, as I give it 1 star. I found myself to be exceedingly irritated while reading the book. I think it was particularly the writing itself. This is one of those books that could have taken another sweep by the editor. The writing was verbose, and all over the place. Just too much, excessive feelings. I highly DO NOT recommend this book, especially do not purchase this book. If you must read it, get it from your library. #netgalley #survivingthewhitegaze #rebeccacarroll #simon&schuster

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carla (Carla's Book Bits)

    Rebecca Carroll grew up the only Black girl in a White-centric town. Surviving the White Gaze is her memoir of how she grows up navigating a completely White environment, how she navigated Black environments after that, and how she finds true acceptance within her family and herself. The marvelous Roxane Gay called this memoir a searching piece, and I think there's no better way to describe the feel of reading this book. Carroll is constantly searching for love and acceptance on her own terms Rebecca Carroll grew up the only Black girl in a White-centric town. Surviving the White Gaze is her memoir of how she grows up navigating a completely White environment, how she navigated Black environments after that, and how she finds true acceptance within her family and herself. The marvelous Roxane Gay called this memoir a searching piece, and I think there's no better way to describe the feel of reading this book. Carroll is constantly searching for love and acceptance on her own terms, and as the reader, you really really feel for her. She raises a lot of questions that I've seen a lot of mixed-race people bring up. In that way, I think this memoir really excels. It was such a beautiful, compelling read, and a wonderful outpouring of a heart! This might be a teensy little nitpick though, but I felt like I also wanted her to say... more?? Like I knew what Carroll's point was with x story from her childhood, I just found myself always just wanting her to go all the way with her point. SAY IT OUT LOUD. Don't toe into your point, hit me in the head with it. That's probably a preference thing, though! There's still lots of things to learn from with this memoir, and it's a solid read for anyone who wants to learn more from non-White narratives. Surviving the White Gaze is supremely sensitive and well-written and I can't wait for more memoirs of this kind to get into people's hands. Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A beautiful memoir that I think is an important read for white people, especially any white person parenting a child of another race.

  12. 4 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    Unlike any biography you’ve read, Rebecca Carroll’s heart pouring and enlightening memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, brings to light adoption and racism in a pervasively influenced world of whiteness. I was encouraged to read Carroll’s novel by her publishers and I’m glad I took them up on their suggestion. I’m ashamed to say how little I knew about the issues Carrol raises. This was a good book to begin my education about issues people of colour face today. Rebecca Carroll, a black cultural cri Unlike any biography you’ve read, Rebecca Carroll’s heart pouring and enlightening memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, brings to light adoption and racism in a pervasively influenced world of whiteness. I was encouraged to read Carroll’s novel by her publishers and I’m glad I took them up on their suggestion. I’m ashamed to say how little I knew about the issues Carrol raises. This was a good book to begin my education about issues people of colour face today. Rebecca Carroll, a black cultural critic, shares her poignant account of being raised since birth by loving white parents after being given up for adoption by her white mother and black father. Although well accepted by the all-white community and raised in a happy home in rural New Hampshire, Carroll was never encouraged to explore her black culture. Just as she begins to question her heritage, she’s introduced to her distant and thoughtless mother who, instead of completing Carroll, ends up harming her with her blatant disregard for her daughter’s black identity. Carroll tailspins into a harmful behaviour as she tries to discover who she is and how she fits into her world. Thankfully, she meets her chosen family, a black family, who jump-start her healing process. It’s more than just a biracial baby being adopted by a white family, it’s a story about the delicate web of threads; love, family, fitting in, and overcoming. It’s about a girl who reaches into her depths to find out who she is and painfully struggles to overcome and be accepted. It's about what defines a family and the role they play in orchestrating your success in life. You’ll be familiarized with the concept of ‘white gaze’ and revisit racism that is so prevalent in America today. Hopefully, you’ll be left with an overwhelming sadness that will ignite your desire for tolerance and acceptance and use it to help America heal. Look for this must-read on February 2, 2021. Thank you to Rebecca Carroll, Simon and Schuster Canada, and NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maggie (Magsisreadingagain)

    Adoption can be complicated enough, without adding in adoption of a biracial child into a white family, living in an entirely white, conservative community. Rebecca Carroll brilliantly recounts her experiences, peeling back her emotional and psychological reactions to adoption and family sabotage, as she learns her own comfort level, and experience of being Black. The overt, and discreet, racism she experiences creates a visceral tug-of-war between the white world in which she was raised, and th Adoption can be complicated enough, without adding in adoption of a biracial child into a white family, living in an entirely white, conservative community. Rebecca Carroll brilliantly recounts her experiences, peeling back her emotional and psychological reactions to adoption and family sabotage, as she learns her own comfort level, and experience of being Black. The overt, and discreet, racism she experiences creates a visceral tug-of-war between the white world in which she was raised, and the Black world that seems to be just beyond her reacher times. As she chooses to gain control of her own destiny, and asserts her own power, the reaction from those who have loved her is raw yet predictable. This book offers a beautiful examination of the quest to claim identity, amidst every level of complication. The epilogue, in which she relates her concerns as a parent of a young Black man in our current times, brought tears to my eyes. Gratitude to the author for sharing her truths.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sanjida

    Pay no attention to the pastoral and sentimental looking cover and off putting title, this is a really well written memoir. Like the best memoirs, the author is an unreliable narrator, her perspectives matching who she is at every point of the story. She's also not perfect, and I don't think she even expects the reader to agree with her takes or choices. Yet, there's a lot of truth about double consciousness, assimilation, adoption, parenting, loss and identity and belonging, some of which felt Pay no attention to the pastoral and sentimental looking cover and off putting title, this is a really well written memoir. Like the best memoirs, the author is an unreliable narrator, her perspectives matching who she is at every point of the story. She's also not perfect, and I don't think she even expects the reader to agree with her takes or choices. Yet, there's a lot of truth about double consciousness, assimilation, adoption, parenting, loss and identity and belonging, some of which felt a little too close to my own life story for comfort. The book wraps up a bit abruptly, though, and leaves me wondering if and exactly how she ended up processing her experiences and getting to a healthy place, mentally. (There are unhealthy patterns that aren't resolved on page other than: and then I met X and we lived happily ever after.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura Dvorak

    Still processing this one...⁣ ⁣ SURVIVING THE WHITE GAZE has been floating around my feed as an upcoming “must read”, and it includes a lot of my main interests: memoirs by women, race, & family tensions. Rebecca Carroll is a biracial writer who was adopted by a white family in New Hampshire, and she details the many challenges of growing up as the only Black person in such a white space. ⁣ ⁣ Carroll’s life is fascinating for sure, but I never got as absorbed as I wanted to. The timeline is a little Still processing this one...⁣ ⁣ SURVIVING THE WHITE GAZE has been floating around my feed as an upcoming “must read”, and it includes a lot of my main interests: memoirs by women, race, & family tensions. Rebecca Carroll is a biracial writer who was adopted by a white family in New Hampshire, and she details the many challenges of growing up as the only Black person in such a white space. ⁣ ⁣ Carroll’s life is fascinating for sure, but I never got as absorbed as I wanted to. The timeline is a little disjointed, and the prose would either be viscerally descriptive or totally flat. This could easily be a title that grows on me over time, or one that is better suited for reading in small chunks instead of over one weekend. ⁣ ⁣ Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an eARC in exchange for this review. ⁣

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Memoirs are one of my favourite genres to read. There's something about the vulnerability of someone sharing their story that makes it so intimate and appealing to me. This memoir was absolutely brilliant. Rebecca is a phenomenal writer. There's something about the simplicity of her writing, that makes it so beautiful and raw. For me, it was an "easy" read because of this simplicity, but also because I was so deeply enthralled in her story. Rebecca's memory is premised on navigating her "Blackness Memoirs are one of my favourite genres to read. There's something about the vulnerability of someone sharing their story that makes it so intimate and appealing to me. This memoir was absolutely brilliant. Rebecca is a phenomenal writer. There's something about the simplicity of her writing, that makes it so beautiful and raw. For me, it was an "easy" read because of this simplicity, but also because I was so deeply enthralled in her story. Rebecca's memory is premised on navigating her "Blackness" in a predominantly white family and neighborhood in her early years, as well as through various other avenues of her life. Rebecca experiences so many microaggressions and racism throughout her life - in her relationships, throughout her education, and with family. Rebecca's relationship with her biological mother, Tess, broke me.... Tess was cruel and manipulative towards Rebecca, so at times, it was hard to read about that. I felt so deeply saddened when Rebecca walked us through her feelings of self after spending time with Tess.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    Carroll grapples with being a black child, adopted by white parents, and reared in small town New Hampshire. She also struggled for,years in her relationship with her biological mother, Tessa, who is white. I found that relationship to be extremely toxic. I couldn’t believe she took an 11 year old to a club. The author continues to find her voice and her own identity though college and young adulthood. I found her writing and story compelling. I think many readers will be interested in her story Carroll grapples with being a black child, adopted by white parents, and reared in small town New Hampshire. She also struggled for,years in her relationship with her biological mother, Tessa, who is white. I found that relationship to be extremely toxic. I couldn’t believe she took an 11 year old to a club. The author continues to find her voice and her own identity though college and young adulthood. I found her writing and story compelling. I think many readers will be interested in her story and find many aspects of the author’s experiences to be relevant. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the advance read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pascale

    Thank you to NetGalley and to Simon & Schuster for the advance reader's copy. Not too long ago I finished reading Isabel Wilkerson' Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, I think picking this up afterwards was a bit of reader's luck on my part. Though Dr. Wilkerson's work does touch quite a bit on the personal, it is quite global, and not solely focused on the lived experience of a single racial group, and not limited to a single country either. Rebecca Carroll's memoir is focused on a specific Thank you to NetGalley and to Simon & Schuster for the advance reader's copy. Not too long ago I finished reading Isabel Wilkerson' Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, I think picking this up afterwards was a bit of reader's luck on my part. Though Dr. Wilkerson's work does touch quite a bit on the personal, it is quite global, and not solely focused on the lived experience of a single racial group, and not limited to a single country either. Rebecca Carroll's memoir is focused on a specific lived experience that further reinforces what is that Dr. Wilkerson is at the root of caste and caste hierarchy in the US. Carroll's memoir is heartbreaking, but also hopeful and beautifully written. The chapters are short and almost like journal entries, poignant, sometimes sparse, sometimes full of detail, difficult but also beautiful. Do yourself a favor and pick this up!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gea

    My first reaction before even getting a third of the way into this book, was anger. Anger at the adoptive parents and their boundary free lifestyle, and at the birth mother for taking her daughter to a nightclub at age eleven, and trying to arrange loss of her virginity of age fourteen. Is it any wonder that Rebecca grows up in confusion and struggling to fit in. Powerful reading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donna Boyd

    Thank you to #NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. Surviving the White Gaze is Rebecca Carroll's own story of being adopted by white parents and growing up as the only black person in a rural New Hampshire town. She met her white birth mother, Tess, when she was in fifth grade. She did not meet her father, who is black, until later in life. This memoir is a candid and powerful one that deals wit Thank you to #NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. Surviving the White Gaze is Rebecca Carroll's own story of being adopted by white parents and growing up as the only black person in a rural New Hampshire town. She met her white birth mother, Tess, when she was in fifth grade. She did not meet her father, who is black, until later in life. This memoir is a candid and powerful one that deals with some serious issues like race, adoption and trying to fit in or find your own place when you are different than everyone you know. Growing up with her adoptive parents, Carroll was loved and cared for and made to feel special but that changed after she met her birth mother. Tess constantly tried to bring down her self-esteem by telling her that she was not special and she needed to get over feeling like she was. Tess also tried to undermine Carroll's blackness, going so far as to tell Carroll that she came out of her body and that since she was white, then Carroll had no business calling herself black. It is no wonder that she began to struggle with eating disorders, drinking and depression. She was torn between wanting to remain loyal to her adoptive parents while at the same time longing for the acceptance of her birth mother. In the end, Carroll is able to come to terms with her race and find the love and acceptance she has been looking for. This is a very good book and I highly recommend it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Thank- you to Net Galley for providing me this book to read by Rebecca Carroll, a memoir of her life - she's a black woman who was adopted into a white family. I am finding this review difficult to write, mostly because this book did an excellent job of provoking the reader to question her own values and feelings of racism. I never thought of myself as a racist, and yet growing up in a typical white middle-class family, I really wasn't exposed to many people who were different from me. When I di Thank- you to Net Galley for providing me this book to read by Rebecca Carroll, a memoir of her life - she's a black woman who was adopted into a white family. I am finding this review difficult to write, mostly because this book did an excellent job of provoking the reader to question her own values and feelings of racism. I never thought of myself as a racist, and yet growing up in a typical white middle-class family, I really wasn't exposed to many people who were different from me. When I did, I know I wasn't unkind, but I don't ever remember entertaining the idea of being friends with someone who is different. Rebecca experienced racism and prejudice on so many levels. Her upbringing also gave her a very warped sense of the meaning of marriage, relationships, friendships , parenting and mothering in particular. While I was reading this book, I looked up the author and read many of her articles and blogposts, all of which I found very well written and thoughtful. The writing in this book, however was a bit disappointing. Although I found her story extremely interesting and informative, it dragged on at times with a running commentary of her exploits . All of her friends, boyfriends, work colleagues at all stages of her life were mentioned by name and I found it hard to keep them straight. Some of them obviously had more of an impact on her than others, but the weight of that importance wasn't always felt. But all in all, this was a very worthwhile read, definitely giving me pause to think about the subject of race and racism. Almost 4 stars!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir by Rebecca Carroll is a powerful and enlightening novel based on the life of a black woman who was adopted. She grew up in a white family in a white community and attended a school where she was the only black student. She was very loved by her family, however she never learnt about black history, culture and they were unable to do the basics like doing her hair. She had the opportunity to meet her birth mother Tess, who constantly diminished her self-esteem as Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir by Rebecca Carroll is a powerful and enlightening novel based on the life of a black woman who was adopted. She grew up in a white family in a white community and attended a school where she was the only black student. She was very loved by her family, however she never learnt about black history, culture and they were unable to do the basics like doing her hair. She had the opportunity to meet her birth mother Tess, who constantly diminished her self-esteem as well as undermining Carroll's blackness. These were ingredients to many problems in Carroll’s life: depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and drinking. She was torn between wanting to remain loyal to her adoptive parents while at the same time craving the approval of her birth mother. Carroll had many issues to overcome and takes the readers along her journey of acceptance. Thank you #netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gail Williamson

    The author, a brown woman details the story of her life showing equal parts courage and confusion. She tells the story of her childhood as an adoptee in a white family in a white town. It is a good introduction for those who have not faced a life of being considered "less". When she speaks to the conversations with some characters in her life who basically say that 'they don't see her as any different', it hits the mark. As I too am a brown woman. If you don't see your brown friends as different, The author, a brown woman details the story of her life showing equal parts courage and confusion. She tells the story of her childhood as an adoptee in a white family in a white town. It is a good introduction for those who have not faced a life of being considered "less". When she speaks to the conversations with some characters in her life who basically say that 'they don't see her as any different', it hits the mark. As I too am a brown woman. If you don't see your brown friends as different, does that mean that you can't fully appreciate the path that they have walked? I believe that in some part it does. A book worth reading, thinking about, discussing and giving as a gift.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. Rebecca, the daughter of a white mother and black father was adopted by a white hippy family living in rural New Hampshire. She starts off in life feeling loved and cherished, but as she grows more aware of her surroundings and her self--and as her adoptive family tries to meet her needs--her life goes wildly into realms that most of us can't even imagine. Between her adoptive parents and her unusual white mother (I'm being polite calling h Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. Rebecca, the daughter of a white mother and black father was adopted by a white hippy family living in rural New Hampshire. She starts off in life feeling loved and cherished, but as she grows more aware of her surroundings and her self--and as her adoptive family tries to meet her needs--her life goes wildly into realms that most of us can't even imagine. Between her adoptive parents and her unusual white mother (I'm being polite calling her unusual) it's amazing that she survives the rest of her childhood. The life she's led is unusual in the range of circumstances she finds herself in as she walks in both the white and black world and tries to find herself as a biracial woman. Somehow and somewhere she got a good amount of grit and in many ways, she comes out on top. Her struggles are very personal and the book is an eye opener in many ways. It's not a book that you say you "enjoyed" per se, but rather one that you feel you are better off for having read it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    How does a biracial child born to a white woman and her Black partner, but then raised by adoptive white parents in a very-white New Hampshire community, figure out who she is and who she wants to be? Rebecca Carroll's adoptive parents let her meet her biological mom, Tess, when she's 11. As a result, the preteen begins to feel a complicated dance of tug o' war between her three adult parents-- none of them with the same brown skin she has. This memoir was un-put-downable, written in such a way How does a biracial child born to a white woman and her Black partner, but then raised by adoptive white parents in a very-white New Hampshire community, figure out who she is and who she wants to be? Rebecca Carroll's adoptive parents let her meet her biological mom, Tess, when she's 11. As a result, the preteen begins to feel a complicated dance of tug o' war between her three adult parents-- none of them with the same brown skin she has. This memoir was un-put-downable, written in such a way that I quickly felt the pain of not really belonging anywhere. Carroll tells truth on every page, and the reader cheers her on as she finds Black friends and negotiates challenging relationships with white people who never really see her in her fullness. This master of language and storytelling is a gift to the world. #NetGalley, #SurvivingtheWhiteGaze

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    I would like to thank Net Galley for the opportunity to read this amazing story. This book was exceptional. The story of a black baby adopted into a white family in white New Hampshire. Rebecca was the only black kid in her school. Much of her introduction into racism was jaw dropping. It is hard to believe how people can be so insensitive even if they are ignorant. I am just an old Canadian white guy who has read many books about racism over the last couple of years and while most explain differ I would like to thank Net Galley for the opportunity to read this amazing story. This book was exceptional. The story of a black baby adopted into a white family in white New Hampshire. Rebecca was the only black kid in her school. Much of her introduction into racism was jaw dropping. It is hard to believe how people can be so insensitive even if they are ignorant. I am just an old Canadian white guy who has read many books about racism over the last couple of years and while most explain different facets, this one lives it. I really do recommend this book if you want a first hand look at the subtle and not so subtle ways of mistreating a human being. An additional aspect of this story is the co-dependence between the author and her birth mother - it was obviously debilitating.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I received a free copy from NetGalley in return for honest feedback. Thank you! One of the most prevalent thoughts I had while reading this book was just how much it drove home how reductive it is to say to Black friends/strangers/acquaintances that we "don't see colour". This memoir is a stark example of loss of core identity and the near desperate search to find that identity in the sea of overt and casual racism. Carroll has provided this emotional labour, and shared her vulnerable story in I received a free copy from NetGalley in return for honest feedback. Thank you! One of the most prevalent thoughts I had while reading this book was just how much it drove home how reductive it is to say to Black friends/strangers/acquaintances that we "don't see colour". This memoir is a stark example of loss of core identity and the near desperate search to find that identity in the sea of overt and casual racism. Carroll has provided this emotional labour, and shared her vulnerable story in a beautifully written tone that draws readers in and doesn't let go until the last lines are read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Schulman

    I received an advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review. What a poignant memoir - different perspective than many out there right now but in a story that needed to be told as it puts in perspective how we treat people that don’t fit on obvious boxes, as well as benign liberal racism. Recommended reading from a wonderful author

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    How do you recommend a memoir to everyone you know...? Asking for a friend. Rebecca Carroll, like any biracial or mixed child, knew growing up that she was Black, and if not that, certainly racially different from her peers. But while she was aware she was visibly different from her peers, internally, she was still raised by a white family, had a white birth mother, and by all other metrics, was raised in whiteness (under the White Gaze, at its most stark). She constantly, and to different degree How do you recommend a memoir to everyone you know...? Asking for a friend. Rebecca Carroll, like any biracial or mixed child, knew growing up that she was Black, and if not that, certainly racially different from her peers. But while she was aware she was visibly different from her peers, internally, she was still raised by a white family, had a white birth mother, and by all other metrics, was raised in whiteness (under the White Gaze, at its most stark). She constantly, and to different degrees, had to come to terms with not being Black "enough", not knowing how to connect to her community or heritage, and in that way, still experiencing the discrimination and racism specific to Black women, feeling lost in a society that was systemically racist. This is a really powerful piece about identity, embracing Blackness as a radical form of self-realization, and reconciling trauma. Personally, this gave me a glimpse into Carroll's life and a generational identity crisis that I had never really heard before (Gen X... why are you so quiet), but knew was happening. This may not be the first memoir of its kind, to talk about being biracial and coming to terms with the fraught dissonance of that being (I think Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood is still fairly popular right now which speaks to the poignancy of these accounts), but it was enlightening, to me. I grew up in Florida, not the northeast, but I saw a similar state in my schools and communities (implied: like 95% white people) especially in private schools where there was kind of like a culture of compulsory (?) whiteness a lot of mixed and POC kids probably felt obligated to uphold. I'm on the very front end of Generation Z as someone born in 1997, and although there is definitely something to be said about the alienation of kids who don't fit a structured portrayal of identity in Gen Z (like, look at kids on tiktok, especially the mixed/controversial comment sections of Black and biracial girls literally doing... anything) I feel like it was particularly strong for Gen X and Millennials, who were growing up in a nation immediately after the civil rights movement that half of which considered itself "post-racial". More accurately, this was a 4.5 read, but this was really good and probably relevant and relatable to the right person so I want to recommend it and for the sake of visibility it's rounded up. Audiobook accessed through the libro.fm bookseller program, via my place of work, Oxford Exchange bookstore in Tampa, FL.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Title: Surviving the White Gaze Author: Rebecca Carroll Read by: Rebecca Carroll Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio Length: Approximately 7 hours and 28 minutes Source: Review Copy from Simon & Shuster Audio. Thank-you! Do you have a favorite memoir or autobiography? Rebecca Carroll tells her story in Surviving the White Gaze. Carroll was adopted and grew up as the only black person in her small New Hampshire town. She loved her artistic parents and her siblings who were their biological children. She Title: Surviving the White Gaze Author: Rebecca Carroll Read by: Rebecca Carroll Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio Length: Approximately 7 hours and 28 minutes Source: Review Copy from Simon & Shuster Audio. Thank-you! Do you have a favorite memoir or autobiography? Rebecca Carroll tells her story in Surviving the White Gaze. Carroll was adopted and grew up as the only black person in her small New Hampshire town. She loved her artistic parents and her siblings who were their biological children. She always felt something was missing especially as she grew older. She was treated differently as the only black girl in her high school, but she had no black role model or person to relate with. Carroll meets her biological mother, and they have a tumultuous relationship. She grows up, goes to college, and tries to find a path forward in life and where she belongs. Will Rebecca Carroll be able to find her place in the world? I thought this memoir was fascinating, although difficult at times. I was sad how Carroll was treated by people, in particular her biological mother. Her adoptive family also had some emotional turmoil as well, which lead to instability in her life. The most telling part to me was actually towards the end of the memoir. Carroll and her son were visiting her adoptive parents. Her son asked why there were no black people anywhere there. Her adoptive father gave a historical factual answer that did not satisfy them. He then discussed it with his mother on the way home and asked her if it made her sad that there were no pictures or items of African American art around her parents’ house and no real acknowledgement of her heritage. It did make her sad. This really hit home to me and opened my eyes. We all have different experiences in life, and I find it very important to learn about the experiences of others. It helps me to think about how I can try to make things better in my own little corner of the world, and within my own family. The only negative I had was that it seemed to drag on awhile with boyfriend problems and I wasn’t really interested. The memoir really hit home when it talked about family issues with her biological parents, adoptive parents, and then her son. It is her experiences though and she can share what she would like. I enjoyed that the author herself, Rebecca Carroll, narrated the audiobook. It gave it a person touch. Overall, Surviving the White Gaze was an important look into the racial identify in our world today. This review was first posted on my blog at: https://lauragerold.blogspot.com/2021...

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