I found this book difficult to rate. I enjoyed Ms. Baszile's writing, it was parts of her story that I found disturbing. Let me explain. Several months ago, after hearing a black friend of mine say that many blacks are tired of "explaining" the black experience to their white friends, that they should take some responsibility and read and learn on their own, I have begun to do just that.
The library Black history month display caught my attention and there among the books was the yellow book, "The Black Girl Next Door." I decided I would check it out and I did not read the inside book covers to get a quick review of what the book was about.
I did enjoy the book until I began to get a deeper understanding of the family dynamics that she grew up with. Now, don't get me wrong, I do not believe that her family dynamics were because she was black or grew up in a black family per se, but she did explain that as a child felt it necessary that she prove to her parents she was, in her words, "black enough," because her parents decided to raise her and her sister in a white, middle class neighborhood.
I was also particularly disturbed how her father bullied her family. Again, do I believe this occurs only in black families? Being raised by a white, working class mother, divorced (read abandoned) with some financial assistance from maternal grandparents, I have no experience from which to draw my opinion, other than what I read or remember from classmates. I recall a friend who the summer he grew several inches that his father took him up the to the attic and proceeded to pummel him with his fists in order to remind him that as the son, he would obey his father or there would be dire consequences. So, bullying is not limited by race or economic boundaries.
I did learn many interesting things about black hair care, etc., which I had no idea. And overall, the book is very well written.
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