Hot Best Seller

Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

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.


Compare

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 Thomas

    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. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Fleming

    When I first started reading this book I wasn't enamored with the detailed descriptions of an idyllic childhood in rural New Hampshire. But Carroll was setting the stage for the dysfunction and trauma to come. A white couple who "don't see race" adopt a bi-racial child and pretend the child isn't black or that nothing about her being black is of any consequence. Even if Rebecca had been white, the truth is she would likely have had a lot of baggage anyway because of the particular offhand parent When I first started reading this book I wasn't enamored with the detailed descriptions of an idyllic childhood in rural New Hampshire. But Carroll was setting the stage for the dysfunction and trauma to come. A white couple who "don't see race" adopt a bi-racial child and pretend the child isn't black or that nothing about her being black is of any consequence. Even if Rebecca had been white, the truth is she would likely have had a lot of baggage anyway because of the particular offhand parenting style engaged in by her adoptive parents. Rebecca, born to a white student of her father's and an older black man, was like an experiment in not seeing race. But her needs as a black child who knew she was black had no place in the grand scheme of liberal whiteness that was manifested in her adoption. The pain and trauma Rebecca suffered at the hand of her emotionally abusive birth mother is gut wrenching. Her attempts to forge a black identity and the psychological conflicts she faced in her efforts to be seen by white people as the same as everyone else growing up as the only black person in her New Hampshire town, are so vividly and honestly described. White people who claim they don't see race is just as destructive to racial equanimity as being an out right racist. It is disingenuous and serves only to diminish and deny the equal humanity of people of color. Tess, Rebecca's birth mother is a racist who tries to hide behind the fact that she gave birth to a black child. She regularly demeans black people, claims to know more about the behavior of black people than Rebecca does and tries to dominate any discussion of race that Rebecca tries to have with her. Every encounter she had with Tess made me want to sound an alarm and shout danger! danger! And yet, as children often do with parents, Rebecca strove for her birth mother's love and attention. It is no wonder that in her painful young adulthood she bounced back and forth between relationships with white and black men--still wanting to be accepted by the boys she knew in middle and high school who wouldn't date her because she was black and trying to find her blackness in the beds of black men. For all of the white people out there navigating their own fraught emotions about race, racial equity, and how to handle something that scientifically doesn't even exist, these words at the end of her book really say it all. In the end she does marry a white man, but a very special white man indeed. Someone white people who want to be allies should emulate—a scholar of race and American History: "Someone willing to immerse themselves in the structural and racial disparities that have existed for time immemorial—who understands, because he has taken the time to read and research—that Black History is American History and that there are millions of different Black histories that have never been told—by design. For the average White person in America, even and especially the average White liberal person, who thinks they are on the right side of history, the privilege is too intense. The work and humility required to fully understand systemic racism in this country holds no realistic appeal. Most white people go straight to their own sense of guilt and then don't know how to manage their feelings from there—as we have seen play out over and over in the 'woke' era of 2020." Even for white people who never have and never will adopt a child of another race, this book teaches a powerful lesson in howWhite behavior around race traumatizes Black people over and over again.

  7. 5 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marvin

    Writer and cultural critic, Rebecca Carroll’s memoir “Surviving the White Gaze” tells her compelling story of being a biracial Black child adopted by White parents and coming of age in a predominantly White New England community. Carroll walks us through her complex journey of racial identity development as a Black girl in 1970s & 1980s New Hampshire. She shows how early on, she recognizes how Whiteness is, in many spaces, seen as the standard of beauty, sophistication and intelligence. What compl Writer and cultural critic, Rebecca Carroll’s memoir “Surviving the White Gaze” tells her compelling story of being a biracial Black child adopted by White parents and coming of age in a predominantly White New England community. Carroll walks us through her complex journey of racial identity development as a Black girl in 1970s & 1980s New Hampshire. She shows how early on, she recognizes how Whiteness is, in many spaces, seen as the standard of beauty, sophistication and intelligence. What complicates things even further is Carroll’s relationships with those closest to her. Her parents operate off of the ideology of being well-meaning white folks, who practice a “colorblind” approach to race. Her White biological mother, who she meets as a teen is a PIECE OF WORK. She fetishizes Black men, promotes racist Black stereotypes and, in many ways, attempts to sabotage Carroll’s racial identity development... I was angry for the author when reading certain parts. However, what makes this book triumphant is seeing Carroll show us how she literally went out of her way to curate Blackness in her life by seeking out Black friends, Black literature, Black cities and Black educational experiences. I honestly think this book could be a miniseries. It’s timely, and could be incredibly informative for many types of people. From Black kids and young adults navigating white spaces, to White parents with Black children, and even educators, students, etc. This is a riveting memoir which I believe we’ll be hearing a great deal about in the years to come.

  9. 5 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

    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.

  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. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Most have read, watched, or heard something that Rebecca Carroll has written or produced. But, this is the story of her upbringing. A memoir starting from her adoption into a white family in a predominantly white community, where she was in school before she ever saw another living Black person. On to meeting her narcissistic and arguably abusive birth mother who co-opts Carroll's Blackness as her own, while at the same time denying it to Carroll. Rebecca, however, continues to grow into a brave Most have read, watched, or heard something that Rebecca Carroll has written or produced. But, this is the story of her upbringing. A memoir starting from her adoption into a white family in a predominantly white community, where she was in school before she ever saw another living Black person. On to meeting her narcissistic and arguably abusive birth mother who co-opts Carroll's Blackness as her own, while at the same time denying it to Carroll. Rebecca, however, continues to grow into a brave young woman searching for her true self, while learning how to embrace her Blackness after years of being drowned by whiteness. Having grown up only a few hours from Carroll, it was all to easy for me to picture, having been to some of the same places, primarily in Boston. I'm thankful Carroll has allowed us the opportunity to imagine what it must have been like to survive the white gaze. The story of Rebecca Carroll's life will give you all the feels. And most importantly, remind us all why it is so important to truly SEE colour, acknowledge it, appreciate it, love it. So very highly recommended. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    "The experience had changed us. It had changed me, and I felt my body shiver as a small cell of trauma began to metastasize.” (55) This is a bitter pill for me because I previously adored Carroll's writing. I've heard good things about her podcast and always intended to listen (still do) but I especially love her Tweets and culture criticism. So I'm confounded by how underwhelmed I was by this book. The writing style was ok, something felt off that I've never noticed in her writing before. It was "The experience had changed us. It had changed me, and I felt my body shiver as a small cell of trauma began to metastasize.” (55) This is a bitter pill for me because I previously adored Carroll's writing. I've heard good things about her podcast and always intended to listen (still do) but I especially love her Tweets and culture criticism. So I'm confounded by how underwhelmed I was by this book. The writing style was ok, something felt off that I've never noticed in her writing before. It was either too purple or too conversational (there are so many superfluous details about scents, appearance, etc) and the back and forth gave me whiplash. Some of the most minute things would be heavily described and it made the book lag. For example, there are a lot of names to remember, especially of white boys. I kept mixing up Nate, Ryan and Roy who ultimately didn't seem all that consequential to her story aside from propelling her forward. I wanted it to be tighter, more straightforward. At times it's very clear Carroll is holding back, which is understandable for a memoir about such a traumatic childhood but it does a disservice to both the reader and the writer when it's readily apparent that they're shying away from certain things. Closure is lacking which is of course a part of life but I wanted to know so much more about her adult life and experiences with Black people. How did she start the BSU? Why did she drift apart from the Black friends she made on her DC field trip? What was it like meeting Toni Morrison?? Why did her relationship with her dad receive much less focus? It read as though many of her Black experiences were less interesting, or perhaps made less of an impact, than her experiences with (mostly) horrible white people when it came time to write her memoir. But I also reflected on her interactions with the one or two Black adults shem et growing up who didn't do much to help her either. I would hope not to do the same but it made me wonder what we're not seeing when we (Black people) interact in predominantly white spaces. I'm thinking specifically of her ballet teacher who absolutely must have noticed her white mother didn't know how to do her hair (and this stands out to me both because I danced ballet and because my father was comfortable asking our Black teachers to help with our hair in preschool so it's not out of the realm of possibility). Her eating disorder was also casually mentioned and then pushed to the side as she undergoes a string of traumatic experiences, resulting in the reader having no idea how she recovered from it. Again it's not something we're owed but I felt odd not knowing if she was ok and how she got the support she needed. There's still plenty that I did admire about this memoir. Carroll survives a traumatic childhood with experiences ranging from being the only Black person in a small white N.H. town to developing a relationship with her manipulative birth mother, Tess. Some of Carroll's most powerful and sharp writing surrounds her relationship with her mother. "Tess erased my blackness and then lynched my spirit in an ongoing public spectacle of psychological and emotional violence that started at the Uptown disco club, through to the dean's office at UNH and Elaine's restaurant in New York. I didn't need to kill myself; after reading the book, I felt like I was already dead." (302), WHEW. That passage absolutely blew me away and made my heart ache. Tess is racist and prone to sexualize her daughter and her sons (who she did not give up for adoption). I don't necessarily think eleven is too young for an adoptee to meet their birth parent but given the lack of guidance and supervision from Carroll's adopted parents it was clearly a mistake. She was set up to believe Tess' abuse. There's a lot of pain in this memoir, so many adults failed her time and again. It's heartbreaking and that's why I struggled with this review because the tough subject matter didn't impact me as much as I expected. But I was absolutely cheering her on once she got to college and finally had a Black professor and started reading Black authors. I felt this huge sense of relief when that happened so I was SOMEWHAT emotionally invested and impacted by this story. I don't think Carroll's self esteem and identity issues will be a surprise to any Black person cognizant of their Blackness but I do sincerely hope this book is helpful to white parents considering transracial adoption. I think liberals are starting to understand that being "color blind" is not a good thing and that's the audience that I think would be affected most by this book along with other Black interracial adoptees. SURVIVING THE WHITE GAZE is a somewhat vulnerable, very compelling memoir about how a Black woman finds her voice and her Blackness after growing up surrounded by white people completely oblivious to racism and white supremacy. I wanted it to be blistering and occasionally it is, but more often than not it was tepid. You can feel Carroll parsing her language and trying to be mindful of her adopted family's feelings which I understand but left me disappointed. I do appreciate her candor regardless and I think this memoir will do wonders if it reaches the right audience. It does read like an inspiring coming of age story because she undergoes so much and I think the series will do well. I'm not entirely sure I want to watch it because I do feel like there's a lot of media catered to light skinned/biracial Black people (so of course the tv rights got snatched up) at the moment but we'll see.

  14. 4 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.

  15. 4 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Neylon

    I couldn’t stand the author by the end of the book. She went from being a curious and conflicted, interesting young woman to an angry, strident person who assigned blame to everyone around her, never taking responsibility for her own poor choices. Yes, her adoptive parents were unconventional and naive by overlooking their racial differences. And her birth mom’s behavior toward her was inappropriate and eventually cruel. But we’re only hearing Rebecca’s side of things and her whole tone is selfi I couldn’t stand the author by the end of the book. She went from being a curious and conflicted, interesting young woman to an angry, strident person who assigned blame to everyone around her, never taking responsibility for her own poor choices. Yes, her adoptive parents were unconventional and naive by overlooking their racial differences. And her birth mom’s behavior toward her was inappropriate and eventually cruel. But we’re only hearing Rebecca’s side of things and her whole tone is selfish and dismissive that I wonder how much is accurate. She paints herself the victim in every circumstance. If she ever acknowledged her own role in her constant poor choices and troubled relationships I’d find her a more sympathetic character but she doesn’t so I found her immature and completely un-self aware. I forced myself to finish it but just couldn’t stand her personality.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I kept reading even though I didn't find it to be particularly well written for a person of her writing talents. Basically, this seemed like a rambling revisiting of the ills and challenges of her upbringing as a Black girl adopted by white parents who was bought up a white world trying to find herself. Sorry for how she struggled so much with her identity. Glad she is happy now... But not worth the read. I kept reading even though I didn't find it to be particularly well written for a person of her writing talents. Basically, this seemed like a rambling revisiting of the ills and challenges of her upbringing as a Black girl adopted by white parents who was bought up a white world trying to find herself. Sorry for how she struggled so much with her identity. Glad she is happy now... But not worth the read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Ames-Foley

    Rebecca Carroll is a very impressive writer and I found her memoir difficult to put down. As a white person from rural New Hampshire, the complete lack of diversity and the perpetual casual racism became very visible to me once I had moved to more urban areas and began to learn about race. Carroll, the only Black person in her town, didn't have that luxury. She's raised by two white adoptive parents and in late childhood meets her white birth mother; she doesn't meet her Black father until well Rebecca Carroll is a very impressive writer and I found her memoir difficult to put down. As a white person from rural New Hampshire, the complete lack of diversity and the perpetual casual racism became very visible to me once I had moved to more urban areas and began to learn about race. Carroll, the only Black person in her town, didn't have that luxury. She's raised by two white adoptive parents and in late childhood meets her white birth mother; she doesn't meet her Black father until well into adulthood. Her familial relationships are charged and her journey to form her identity is long and eventful. Overall, I found this incredibly powerful and compelling; my only complaint is that it feels a bit jumbled in certain areas and the timeline isn't always clear. I think this is a really important read, particularly for those from primarily white areas and/or parents who have or plan to adopt a child of another race.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This memoir really proves the point that when well-intentioned, but clueless, white people adopt a Black child, they must put in the work to help the child understand their culture and how to exist in the world. The parents are not doing the child any favors, and indeed may be putting the child at risk, by not teaching the child what it means to be Black in America. Rebecca's parents had a very hands-off approach to parenting. To send Rebecca to spend time with her birth mother, Tess, with barely This memoir really proves the point that when well-intentioned, but clueless, white people adopt a Black child, they must put in the work to help the child understand their culture and how to exist in the world. The parents are not doing the child any favors, and indeed may be putting the child at risk, by not teaching the child what it means to be Black in America. Rebecca's parents had a very hands-off approach to parenting. To send Rebecca to spend time with her birth mother, Tess, with barely an introduction and not even check out her living situation was shocking to me. And then to have Tess take Rebecca to a nightclub. Another example of someone who put Rebecca into a dangerous situation and does not have the maturity to mother her child in a safe and loving way. The main focus of the book is Rebecca's search for who she is and where she belongs. She found her way eventually.

  20. 5 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.)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Jaeckel

    Rebecca Carroll, the biological daughter of a white woman and a Black man, became a transracial adoptee as an infant after her adoption by a loving but clueless white family. Growing up brown in a virtually all-white New Hampshire town was a struggle, only to be made infinitely worse by Carroll's meeting her racist, manipulative birth mother who proceeded to torment and sabotage her for years to come. Carroll's story is one of many contemporary memoirs by BIPOC writers that give testimony to the Rebecca Carroll, the biological daughter of a white woman and a Black man, became a transracial adoptee as an infant after her adoption by a loving but clueless white family. Growing up brown in a virtually all-white New Hampshire town was a struggle, only to be made infinitely worse by Carroll's meeting her racist, manipulative birth mother who proceeded to torment and sabotage her for years to come. Carroll's story is one of many contemporary memoirs by BIPOC writers that give testimony to the truth of the violence inherent in a white supremacist culture, and to the resilience of those who not only survive, but are determined to find the history, community, and the inner resources to make themselves whole and to uplift others.

  22. 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.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    A memoir of a woman who grew up in rural New Hampshire as a Black child adopted by White parents. She was usually the only Black child and looking back at her childhood it hurt. She wishes her parents had moved. Her biological mother is White and her father is Black. She does connect with them. Her adoptive parents were given her when she was age 3. Attending the University of New Hampshire as a young adult was isolating too. Her biological mother’s stronger influence in her life affected her li A memoir of a woman who grew up in rural New Hampshire as a Black child adopted by White parents. She was usually the only Black child and looking back at her childhood it hurt. She wishes her parents had moved. Her biological mother is White and her father is Black. She does connect with them. Her adoptive parents were given her when she was age 3. Attending the University of New Hampshire as a young adult was isolating too. Her biological mother’s stronger influence in her life affected her life with her parents and college experience. Transferring to Hampshire College in MA (my dream college) she is able to courses from all colleges in Amherst and has more Black friends. She eventually majors in Race Studies and obtains a PhD. She marries a White man who also has a PhD in Race Studies and has a Brown son. She has very mixed feelings about her life and relationship to the world. I found it interesting because when I was a kid, my parents had missionary friends who lived in New Hampshire for awhile. They had many children and the two youngest were adopted, ethnic Japanese and Samoan, born in Hawaii. They felt their children had problems in New Hampshire and were considered Black. So they moved back to Hawaii. The youngest weren’t successful in school and they had problems in Hawaii. Their ethnic groups do suffer in Hawaii and low performing minorities. It was interesting to read about her experience and think of the two boys who would be her age.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Rebecca Carroll was adopted by a white family during the 1970’s, and “Surviving the White Gaze” is her memoir (spoilers here). I loved the book for its candor and for how it stretched my understanding of the constant struggle that she had with understanding her Black identity. Her birth mother was white, and she gave Rebecca up for adoption to her teacher and his wife, who already had two white children and who lived a non-normative lifestyle for their generation. The rest of the story tells her Rebecca Carroll was adopted by a white family during the 1970’s, and “Surviving the White Gaze” is her memoir (spoilers here). I loved the book for its candor and for how it stretched my understanding of the constant struggle that she had with understanding her Black identity. Her birth mother was white, and she gave Rebecca up for adoption to her teacher and his wife, who already had two white children and who lived a non-normative lifestyle for their generation. The rest of the story tells her struggles: fitting in within a small New Hampshire (all white) town, navigating high school and adulthood, crafting her writing career, fighting depression and finally, finding some peace. Along the way, she met a cadre of people: well-meaning people, non-well meaning people, family members (adoptive and birth), boyfriends and roommates. Often the book was difficult to read, particularly those passages where she and her birth mother interacted and when she lived with full-blown depression. But, I’m glad that I persevered, knowing that this is the story of one person’s experience, and I admired her for her willingness to confront, to speak out, to confront her demons.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Crowell

    As a biracial adoptee who grew up in a white family in an all white town in New England, I could identify with her story in a deep and meaningful way. I also lived a life rich with microaggressions and racial trauma, often inflicted by people who mistakenly proclaimed that they were "not racist." I loved her writing and her talent for expressing her story. As a biracial adoptee who grew up in a white family in an all white town in New England, I could identify with her story in a deep and meaningful way. I also lived a life rich with microaggressions and racial trauma, often inflicted by people who mistakenly proclaimed that they were "not racist." I loved her writing and her talent for expressing her story.

  26. 5 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.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I'd read a few chapters in a library copy, and liked it enough to purchase a new hardcover. I found it compelling for quite a while as she described her childhood surrounded by "colorblind" white people, including her adoptive parents. When she met her emotionally abusive and racist white birthmother, Tess, the intensity and tragedy of the story climbed dramatically. However, my interest in the narrative began to wane as the author describ I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I'd read a few chapters in a library copy, and liked it enough to purchase a new hardcover. I found it compelling for quite a while as she described her childhood surrounded by "colorblind" white people, including her adoptive parents. When she met her emotionally abusive and racist white birthmother, Tess, the intensity and tragedy of the story climbed dramatically. However, my interest in the narrative began to wane as the author described her young adult years, with what felt like ping-ponging relationships with both white and black men, the brief encounter with her birth father, college experiences, her connection with and ultimate betrayal of her Black professor/mentor, making her way in the work world, and much more. In these chapters I found the writing uneven and the emotional tone less clear-eyed, at times tinged with self-pity. Nevertheless, I'm glad I read this memoir with its many lessons to teach about the "colorblind" approach to race that was the national norm throughout the author's earlier life, as well as the riveting and deeply disturbing portrait of manipulative emotional abuse that Ms. Carroll was subjected to by Tess.

  28. 5 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 4 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.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...