Monday, June 21, 2010

#BookReview: Life on the Color Line - Gregory Howard Williams

Billed as "the true story of a white boy who discovered he was black", Life on the Color Line is the story of the author and his brother. Initially raised by their white parents in Virginia, the boys are surprised to find that the father they were always told was Italian is, in fact, biracial.

Upon their parents separation, the two boys are left with their father, Buster, while their mother takes their younger siblings. Realizing that he cannot raise the boys without help, and because he's lost all of the families' money, Buster moves the brothers to his aunt's home, and the black family members they never knew existed, in Muncie, Indiana.

It is in 1950s Muncie that the brothers learn that even passing is not an option. As in many towns there is a black section and while both boys are white by all appearances, living with their father's family guarantees that no one in town will mistake them for being anything other than black.

Though their race is indeed a hindrance, their father's alcoholism coupled with their mother's abandonment seems to be just as detrimental to the lives of the brothers.

What did you like about this book?
The author rarely blames either parent for his lot in life, though he would be well within his rights to do so.

What did you dislike about this book?
It seemed to have ended abruptly and without a clean break.

What could the author do to improve this book?
The author wrote in detail about his life up until high school, but glossed over his college years and beyond. I would be interested to know how he faired in the world beyond Muncie and if he still identified as black.

Published February 1996

Theme: Everything Must Change by Oleta Adams

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