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Intimate and honest essays on motherhood, marriage, love, and acceptance Brown, White, Black is a portrait of Nishta J. Mehra's family: her wife, who is white; her adopted son, who is black; and their experiences dealing with America's rigid ideas of race, gender, and sexuality. Her clear-eyed and incisive writing on her family's daily struggle to make space for themselves Intimate and honest essays on motherhood, marriage, love, and acceptance Brown, White, Black is a portrait of Nishta J. Mehra's family: her wife, who is white; her adopted son, who is black; and their experiences dealing with America's rigid ideas of race, gender, and sexuality. Her clear-eyed and incisive writing on her family's daily struggle to make space for themselves amid racial intolerance and stereotypes personalizes some of America's most fraught issues. Mehra writes candidly about her efforts to protect and shelter her young son from racial slurs on the playground and from intrusive questions by strangers while educating him on the realities and dangers of being a black male in America. In other essays, she discusses her childhood living in the racially polarized city of Memphis; coming out as queer; being an adoptive mother who is brown; and what it's like to be constantly confronted by people's confusion, concern, and expectations about her child and her family. Above all, Mehra argues passionately for a more nuanced and compassionate understanding of identity and family. Both poignant and challenging, Brown, White, Black is a remarkable portrait of a loving family on the front lines of some of the most highly charged conversations in our culture.


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Intimate and honest essays on motherhood, marriage, love, and acceptance Brown, White, Black is a portrait of Nishta J. Mehra's family: her wife, who is white; her adopted son, who is black; and their experiences dealing with America's rigid ideas of race, gender, and sexuality. Her clear-eyed and incisive writing on her family's daily struggle to make space for themselves Intimate and honest essays on motherhood, marriage, love, and acceptance Brown, White, Black is a portrait of Nishta J. Mehra's family: her wife, who is white; her adopted son, who is black; and their experiences dealing with America's rigid ideas of race, gender, and sexuality. Her clear-eyed and incisive writing on her family's daily struggle to make space for themselves amid racial intolerance and stereotypes personalizes some of America's most fraught issues. Mehra writes candidly about her efforts to protect and shelter her young son from racial slurs on the playground and from intrusive questions by strangers while educating him on the realities and dangers of being a black male in America. In other essays, she discusses her childhood living in the racially polarized city of Memphis; coming out as queer; being an adoptive mother who is brown; and what it's like to be constantly confronted by people's confusion, concern, and expectations about her child and her family. Above all, Mehra argues passionately for a more nuanced and compassionate understanding of identity and family. Both poignant and challenging, Brown, White, Black is a remarkable portrait of a loving family on the front lines of some of the most highly charged conversations in our culture.

30 review for Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charly

    “Some people think our family is adorable, the very embodiment of twenty-first century America, a testament to the power of love and an ever-expanding definition of family; some people think our family is an abomination, everything wrong with America today, evidence of civilization in decline.” I LOVED this book. Nishta J. Mehra, who was born and raised in Memphis, is the daughter of Indian immigrants, in a long-term relationship and now married to her white wife, and both have adopted a Black c “Some people think our family is adorable, the very embodiment of twenty-first century America, a testament to the power of love and an ever-expanding definition of family; some people think our family is an abomination, everything wrong with America today, evidence of civilization in decline.” I LOVED this book. Nishta J. Mehra, who was born and raised in Memphis, is the daughter of Indian immigrants, in a long-term relationship and now married to her white wife, and both have adopted a Black child. This collection of essays takes the reader on a journey from Mehra’s youth where she is trying to walk the line between two cultures, her late teens when she explores her sexuality to her late twenties when she and her wife are going through the process of adoption up until her mid-thirties when she is reflecting on the challenges of raising a Black child in America. This book is extremely nuanced and thoughtful, and even though the author is showing us her life she is also letting us learn with her and work through things. I learned a lot from this book, not just about the rigid stereotypes of immigration, race, and gender but also how strict and ingrained our ideas about what motherhood and a family should look like are and how in all of those situations our language is such an important tool in how we allow space for things or (both purposefully and subconsciously) not. Highly recommend!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Nishta J. Mehra’s BROWN WHITE BLACK means so much to me. This essay collection is an intimate, honest portrayal of Mehta’s life experiences as a first generation Indian-American queer woman, married to a white woman, raising a Black gender nonconforming child. It is both so specific to her experience and universal to questions we all face - how do I exist in this world? How do others see me & how do I see myself? How do I be the best parent I can be, protecting my child while affirming their aut Nishta J. Mehra’s BROWN WHITE BLACK means so much to me. This essay collection is an intimate, honest portrayal of Mehta’s life experiences as a first generation Indian-American queer woman, married to a white woman, raising a Black gender nonconforming child. It is both so specific to her experience and universal to questions we all face - how do I exist in this world? How do others see me & how do I see myself? How do I be the best parent I can be, protecting my child while affirming their autonomy? As a white woman in love with & in a committed relationship with a black woman (and who wants to, one day, have children with my partner), these essays address questions I’ve had of my own - how do we deal with the hyper visibility that comes with not fitting the “traditional family” image? What does it mean to be a non-black parent raising a black child? I can’t express how meaningful it is seeing these deeply personal questions reflected back on the page. It made me feel less alone. One of the things that resonated with me the most was the way Mehra grappled with well-meaning straight white allies’ comments on her family. Queer interracial couples are not trying to make a statement - we’re just two people in love. The reality is the personal is political and societal expectations can be present even in intimate moments. Or they may not be - it depends on the day. Mehra captures that experience beautifully. I found these essays validating and deeply affirming, and she also taught me so much. A couple weeks ago a friend asked for recommendations on books that address antiblackness in Asian-American communities & I wholeheartedly recommend her essay “Pretending to be White” on this subject. There is so much to think about here in how we conceptualize family, race, sexuality, gender & how we can treat each other more as human, less as spectacle. I can think of a million people I want to read this book next.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This took me a while to get through, not because it’s not well-written (it is), or compelling (it is) or important (definitely is), but because the essays, almost all of them, challenged me in some way, challenged my beliefs or assumptions or subconscious. So I read one every few days, let that one settle, and read the next. Mehra’s family is utterly unique but still so deeply relatable, and her words are grounded in love. Really, really great read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    Fascinating essays about many complex subjects through the lens of one person's experience. Fascinating essays about many complex subjects through the lens of one person's experience.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roshni

    Honestly, I have never read a book that speaks so keenly to my experience growing up. Yes, representation of Indian Americans has increased over the years, but it has mainly been in comedy. Other books like “A Thousand Splendid Suns” that speak to a culture similar to the one I’m descendent of was so triggering that I couldn’t get through it. Nishta Mehra is brutally honest, holding nothing back. She implicates herself by spelling out her own biases while acknowledging the indoctrination that co Honestly, I have never read a book that speaks so keenly to my experience growing up. Yes, representation of Indian Americans has increased over the years, but it has mainly been in comedy. Other books like “A Thousand Splendid Suns” that speak to a culture similar to the one I’m descendent of was so triggering that I couldn’t get through it. Nishta Mehra is brutally honest, holding nothing back. She implicates herself by spelling out her own biases while acknowledging the indoctrination that comes with being a first generation American with Asian ethnicity and falling on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I am terrible at reading nonfiction books- ask anyone, but this was easy, relatable, and well written. I couldn’t have asked for better representation or a telling of her story that resonates with so many of us.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I adored this collection of thoughtful, thought-provoking, and profound essays on life, family, race, sexuality, gender, parenting, and so much more. Nishta Mehra has a unique voice, unflinchingly honest yet kind, and she is using it to offer others a perspective on life we might not see or appreciate fully. So many of these essays gave me opportunities to think on my privilege and preconceived notions of race, sexuality, and gender in always that were at times uncomfortable but that discomfort i I adored this collection of thoughtful, thought-provoking, and profound essays on life, family, race, sexuality, gender, parenting, and so much more. Nishta Mehra has a unique voice, unflinchingly honest yet kind, and she is using it to offer others a perspective on life we might not see or appreciate fully. So many of these essays gave me opportunities to think on my privilege and preconceived notions of race, sexuality, and gender in always that were at times uncomfortable but that discomfort is key for growth.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    I loved this essay collection, both for the ways I could relate to Mehra as a fellow brown woman and the ways I couldn't (age, sexuality, life stage) that nevertheless broadened my perceptions. I especially admired Mehra's willingness to be candid and frankly examine her own actions and uncertainties. My only tiny quibble was for editing, as there were several instances of nearly word-for-word repetition between essays. However, race and gender/sexuality in America, let alone in Indian-American I loved this essay collection, both for the ways I could relate to Mehra as a fellow brown woman and the ways I couldn't (age, sexuality, life stage) that nevertheless broadened my perceptions. I especially admired Mehra's willingness to be candid and frankly examine her own actions and uncertainties. My only tiny quibble was for editing, as there were several instances of nearly word-for-word repetition between essays. However, race and gender/sexuality in America, let alone in Indian-American communities, is rarely examined from this perspective so I highly recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jane Maloy

    I NEED you to read this book and consume the idea that privilege exits in most facets of life: your straightness, your whiteness, your biological family-ness, your same skin toned couple. Taking a look at my life through that of one that is (on the surface) very different than my own is an exercise everyone should do and I’ve been doing it a lot lately though books. Our society has accepted so many things as normal and by default other things as “abnormal” and it’s our job to marinate on how to I NEED you to read this book and consume the idea that privilege exits in most facets of life: your straightness, your whiteness, your biological family-ness, your same skin toned couple. Taking a look at my life through that of one that is (on the surface) very different than my own is an exercise everyone should do and I’ve been doing it a lot lately though books. Our society has accepted so many things as normal and by default other things as “abnormal” and it’s our job to marinate on how to change that. We can do it, I believe in us and Nishta Mehra is going to help you see how.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Some essays were tepid, but some were helpful and an eye-opening exercise in empathy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Essay-style memoirs can be written with a lot of love and good intention but still miss the mark. Unfortunately I DNF’d BROWN WHITE BLACK by Nishta J. Mehra at just 35 pages. While there are some things I found myself nodding along with – feeling caught in between the racial binary, for example – there were a lot of things I found problematic: • Referencing “double consciousness” and “code switching” without credit. Both of these concepts are deeply rooted in Black critical race theory. • Using the Essay-style memoirs can be written with a lot of love and good intention but still miss the mark. Unfortunately I DNF’d BROWN WHITE BLACK by Nishta J. Mehra at just 35 pages. While there are some things I found myself nodding along with – feeling caught in between the racial binary, for example – there were a lot of things I found problematic: • Referencing “double consciousness” and “code switching” without credit. Both of these concepts are deeply rooted in Black critical race theory. • Using the adage around working twice as hard to be considered half as good feels appropriative. Granted, Mehra is older than I am, South Asian, and from Memphis which may have led her to use this adage and felt comfortable doing so, but it didn’t sit well with me. • Mehra also discusses the worry and terror of raising a Black son with minimal acknowledgment of her privilege as a non-Black person of color, also citing how her white wife frequently relies on her Black friends to educate her on Blackness. In sum, we have a lot of appropriation in a short amount of time, and I haven’t even touched on the transracial adoption part. So with that, I’m going to call it on this book. I know this deeply personal collection of essays comes from a place of good and so I may be overly critical. I know a lot of folks loved this book for other reasons – the visibility and representation of having two moms is a big one. (And for more on that, I’d suggest checking out @literarylauren_’s review.) But it doesn’t change the fact that I found it problematic and as a reader with relative free will, I don’t have to continue on with it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I loved this. Just a really solid collection of essays all around. Mehra is so good at coming at things from different angles, at looking at all her different identities and experiences and how they intersect in her life. She writes about the racism she's experienced as a brown woman, and she also writes about the anti-blackness she grew up surrounded by, both in her very white Memphis neighborhood and in her Indian American family. She does a lot of grappling. She writes so honestly about being I loved this. Just a really solid collection of essays all around. Mehra is so good at coming at things from different angles, at looking at all her different identities and experiences and how they intersect in her life. She writes about the racism she's experienced as a brown woman, and she also writes about the anti-blackness she grew up surrounded by, both in her very white Memphis neighborhood and in her Indian American family. She does a lot of grappling. She writes so honestly about being a queer brown woman, about queer parenthood, about being married to a white woman and raising a black son. But she doesn't come at any of it from a place of certainty. It's a big book of questions that constantly shift as she turns them over and over in her hands. A++ audiobook.

  12. 4 out of 5

    PhebeAnn

    This was a wonderful follow-up to Mehra's earlier self-published collection of personal essays, The Pomegranate King. While her previous book focused on her relationship with her father and her working through of grief after he died, this volume focuses more on her life as a parent to Shiv, her adopted child. Shiv is Black and gender non-conforming. Mehra is queer, a first generation Indian-American ciswoman, raising Shiv with her wife Jill, a white cis woman, in the American south. Mehra's stor This was a wonderful follow-up to Mehra's earlier self-published collection of personal essays, The Pomegranate King. While her previous book focused on her relationship with her father and her working through of grief after he died, this volume focuses more on her life as a parent to Shiv, her adopted child. Shiv is Black and gender non-conforming. Mehra is queer, a first generation Indian-American ciswoman, raising Shiv with her wife Jill, a white cis woman, in the American south. Mehra's stories of parenting Shiv are written with such tenderness and care. They're also practical. If I were a parent, I think I could take much from the ways Nishta and Jill approach parenting, supporting Shiv while allowing space for her feelings, and her explorations of identity. While it deals with some tough issues--like racism, cissexism, and heterosexism--the joys of everyday life captured amongst those structural challenges made this a really informative, cozy, enjoyable read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    BubbyY

    Definitely, I am thankful that my semi-random book gathering strategy -- recommendations from others and my library -- put this book on my radar. It scratched an itch I only vaguely new was there. This book was on a display at my local library, and the three labels -- "brown", "white", "black" -- snagged my attention. I was already curious about the Indian experience in the USA -- owing to the change in demographics in my community -- as it pertains to race. I had not read a non-fiction book by a Definitely, I am thankful that my semi-random book gathering strategy -- recommendations from others and my library -- put this book on my radar. It scratched an itch I only vaguely new was there. This book was on a display at my local library, and the three labels -- "brown", "white", "black" -- snagged my attention. I was already curious about the Indian experience in the USA -- owing to the change in demographics in my community -- as it pertains to race. I had not read a non-fiction book by a female person on the topic of living and being queer either. The quality of writing was good. The structure and pacing made it easy to stop and resume. This was helpful to me reading this kind of whimsically. I was using reading as a bit of an anchor from being in my head thinking about race and identity and reactions to those subjects, etc. Ironically, as much as I found myself smiling at and engaged in the subject matter, many segments jettisoned me back into my head and away from the book. I really appreciate Mehra sharing her perspective through these snippets of her life. I feel like I've read many novels of which race was a dominant theme wherein the narrative voice or characters paint a pretty black-white world and seem to assume a certain shared world view. So even when I may be in agreement that (black) people were wronged in a certain circumstance, I may also find myself fighting to keep with the text because I'm having a hard time handling the author's anger or the implied guilt (e.g., that white or rich people should feel). For example, I hold strong feelings that Invisible Man was a compelling and valuable contribution to literature around black-white racial tension in the US, but when I tried to reread it a couple years ago -- I originally read it as a student -- probably in high school -- the intense anger I perceived force me to stop. I questioned how open the thoughts could be of such angry pages. I think it is also of some importance that most of these texts to which I've alluded were written by men. I have nothing against anger or men. (I'm actually like Mehra in that I had to learn as an adult to embrace anger as an equally valuable emotion and signal.) Those feelings, approaches and perspectives are valid, but I am so glad that there are voices likes this too, leaving me with more room with to react and integrate. Some things that lingered with me: * "Brown": At first, I thought this referred to Indians, but later I thought she might be referring to Asians. Could this be a relabeling of the "Other" category? And what about Hispanics? They were not mentioned at all. (Says something about my context that my brain periodically popped the "And what about Hispanics?" question throughout the second half.) * Jill: Jill -- her wife -- is mentioned plenty, but I wanted to know more about her perspective of this experience of building a family that checks so many minority boxes. She teased it a bit in the closing chapter? essay? "This Is What A Family Looks Like" when she says "she has an easier time convincing other white people that what we experience isn't just our imagination" (p 191). Overall, I felt Mehra's writing was very honest. A beautiful portrait. P.S. When I first looked at the picture on the back of the (hardcover) book, I do not remember what I felt; that there was a picture may not have been stamped into my memory. When I first took in the photo my only thought was "that [kid] has some amazing hair". (I don't remember the pronoun I used in my thoughts. I used either "boy" or "kid".) Over the course of the book I look at it a number of times, as Merha often mentioned litmus tests and reactions (to her family), and I am proud to say -- because this wouldn't have been true of earlier version of myself -- that all I could see was "a happy family". I, of course, registered their various skin tones, but I didn't question anything about what I was seeing. It looked like a family photo, from the first viewing to the last, and I didn't have any other thoughts about it. (I'm not a photo person. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Poonam

    What a beautiful essay collection from Nishta J. Mehra. The social and religious constructs that define what marriage and motherhood should look like - both in American and Indian cultures - is upended with Nishta’s powerful collection. As an Indian-American queer woman from the south, married to a white woman and raising a gender non-conforming black child, she shares her views on race, sexuality and identity. Those messy, complicated thoughts you struggle with as you figure out who you are, the What a beautiful essay collection from Nishta J. Mehra. The social and religious constructs that define what marriage and motherhood should look like - both in American and Indian cultures - is upended with Nishta’s powerful collection. As an Indian-American queer woman from the south, married to a white woman and raising a gender non-conforming black child, she shares her views on race, sexuality and identity. Those messy, complicated thoughts you struggle with as you figure out who you are, the values you want to live by, and how you fit into your community. Nishta doesn’t shy away from any of it as she opens up about her upbringing in a predominantly white Tennessee city, coming out as a lesbian, the challenges she encounters with her relationship, and the complexities of raising a black child in America. This book reminds me of those deep, hours long conversations you have with your best friend. Maybe there’s wine or coffee, probably some snacks, and just the two of you as you talk about life. The beauty of this book is Nishta’s starting the conversation. She’s putting her faith into us, the reader, to go on this journey with her. And you’ll definitely go with her and wish you could respond back with your thoughts and questions. A few things I enjoyed: - Loved her willingness to analyze her participation in chasing the ideal American (read: white) life. How she challenges her own thinking and begins to embrace her identity as a brown woman in America. - She takes on the anti-blackness that is so prevalent in the Indian community. YESSSS! - The way she balances the values she wants to instill in her child while also being honest with where we are as a society. Things aren’t perfect - there is a lot of judgment out there - and it was interesting to read how she handles this. I’m here for everything Nishta is doing. She’s widening the scope on what’s possible for Indian-Americans. Whether you’re Indian or not, queer or not, a mother or not, Nishta’s examinations and reflections on life are intimately human and worth your time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steph Scholl

    4.5 stars! I love how this book opened my heart and eyes even more fully to the meaning and structure of family, how to harness the fight in our hearts to push back against culture and gender norms and make space for ALL formations of love and being in our current society.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This fantastic memoir is such a welcome change from the glut of motherhood narratives that’s been overwhelming bookshelves lately, namely white women having existential crises about whether or not they want to have children. It’s not that there’s no place for those, but (thankfully, for me, because I’m over them) this is not that book. This is the story of someone who never questioned their desire to be a parent, though her wife did, and how she and her family navigate the world. The author is o This fantastic memoir is such a welcome change from the glut of motherhood narratives that’s been overwhelming bookshelves lately, namely white women having existential crises about whether or not they want to have children. It’s not that there’s no place for those, but (thankfully, for me, because I’m over them) this is not that book. This is the story of someone who never questioned their desire to be a parent, though her wife did, and how she and her family navigate the world. The author is of Indian descent, her wife is white, and the son they adopted is Black (and, at the time of this story, 5 years old). The honesty and clarity with which she lays out how the family traverses and makes decisions around race, gender, and social structures is so refreshing to read, even for someone who has zero interest in parenthood. It’s so interesting to hear how they’re able to be both pragmatic and idealistic about raising their gender nonconforming Black child as a mixed-race lesbian couple in America. Definitely recommend this read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ser

    I would recommend this book to anyone, but I think it could be especially thought-provoking and valuable for white, straight, cis parents and white, straight, cis people who would like to be a parent at some point in their life. I am not a parent myself and most of the time I have zero desire to be a parent, but I am a member of society and I would like to see our society evolve and most of my hope for that rests in the next generation and the parents of the next generation. As a white person, t I would recommend this book to anyone, but I think it could be especially thought-provoking and valuable for white, straight, cis parents and white, straight, cis people who would like to be a parent at some point in their life. I am not a parent myself and most of the time I have zero desire to be a parent, but I am a member of society and I would like to see our society evolve and most of my hope for that rests in the next generation and the parents of the next generation. As a white person, this book is challenging in a lot of ways, but it is the type of challenging that we need, that pushes us out of our comfort zones and helps us see our privilege and think about how we can be more aware and more considerate and caring in our interactions with people who are different from us.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ellen | reading_theend

    I adored this memoir and am so thankful to my friend Allison for recommending it. I was amazed at how well developed the author’s voice is — she feels solid and wonderfully comfortable with who she is. The book is bracingly honest, and delves into topics beyond race — motherhood, feminism and sexuality are all explored with a deft hand. And I have to tell y’all, I feel like we would be great friends. So much of what she says about parenting mirrors my own philosophy of letting children discover I adored this memoir and am so thankful to my friend Allison for recommending it. I was amazed at how well developed the author’s voice is — she feels solid and wonderfully comfortable with who she is. The book is bracingly honest, and delves into topics beyond race — motherhood, feminism and sexuality are all explored with a deft hand. And I have to tell y’all, I feel like we would be great friends. So much of what she says about parenting mirrors my own philosophy of letting children discover who they are in a warm and encouraging environment without turning into a helicopter parent. I highly recommend it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    This is a beautifully written but also highly accessible glimpse into the life of a modern American family that doesn't quite fit the definition of what many think an "American family" should look like and act like. It is important reading for anyone who wants an understanding of the daily questions, topics, and issues that family's like Mehra's must address as they navigate life, friendships, and parenting. This is a beautifully written but also highly accessible glimpse into the life of a modern American family that doesn't quite fit the definition of what many think an "American family" should look like and act like. It is important reading for anyone who wants an understanding of the daily questions, topics, and issues that family's like Mehra's must address as they navigate life, friendships, and parenting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Jerkins

    Family, race, gender, privilege, bias... my friend Nishta explores these topics directly, with her characteristic generosity shining through. The chapters about becoming a parent pushed me in a wonderful way, in what I have taken and do take for granted regularly in this role. Thank you, Nishta, for doing this work and showing us the work you’ve done in your life—your deliberateness in all things is beautiful and challenging. I’m honored to count you friend.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dc

    i can’t stand it when chapters in a memoir repeat, again & again, the same descriptors ... as tho maybe i’m going to read the book non-linearly, or that i’ve somehow forgotten something i read just pages before. for that reason i give the book 3 stars. the topics get a 5.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tim Mazurek

    It’s so beautifully written. Clear and direct and manages to talk about big important things through the lens of one family. A thoroughly engaging read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Morrison

    Good read about a very "non traditional" family! Good read about a very "non traditional" family!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Great read that both challenged me and reminded me that growth and change are important work for all of us

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sierra Menzies

    #12 in 2020. This book was eye opening in a lot of ways. Nishta talks about how she was raised in Memphis by Indian immigrants in an affluent, predominantly white neighborhood. She attended an all girls private school, came out as gay, married her partner who was her professor and is 19 years her senior, and adopted a black son. Nishta and Jill's blended family of three colors raises a lot of eyebrows pretty much everywhere and Nishta wrestles with how that makes her feel, and what she wishes peo #12 in 2020. This book was eye opening in a lot of ways. Nishta talks about how she was raised in Memphis by Indian immigrants in an affluent, predominantly white neighborhood. She attended an all girls private school, came out as gay, married her partner who was her professor and is 19 years her senior, and adopted a black son. Nishta and Jill's blended family of three colors raises a lot of eyebrows pretty much everywhere and Nishta wrestles with how that makes her feel, and what she wishes people would automatically know what to say/do in situations that are not yet the norm in society. She spends a lot of time talking about her son, Shiv, whose namesake is fascinating and emotional, and who is a kid who dances and wears dresses because he likes to. I love her candor about her own experiences acknowledging her tendencies toward racism and her critique of how that racism is ingrained in the roots of our country, especially in a southern town like Memphis. I think her story is important for people to read because it draws attention to the fact that a family is a family. They take shapes that might vary dramatically from a few short generations ago but they are families nonetheless, with bedtime stories, lessons from playground encounters, dance recitals and traditional dishes handed down.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I enjoyed reading this memoir. It traces the lives and struggles of a queer multiracial family (Indian-American, Black and white). It discusses the decision to adopt and their early years as a family. I enjoyed the honesty with which Mehra discussed white supremacy’s influence, particularly how it impacted her and led to internalized racism as she grew up surrounded by wealthy white families in a Memphis suburb. I also appreciated her observations and interrogations of anti-black racism and how I enjoyed reading this memoir. It traces the lives and struggles of a queer multiracial family (Indian-American, Black and white). It discusses the decision to adopt and their early years as a family. I enjoyed the honesty with which Mehra discussed white supremacy’s influence, particularly how it impacted her and led to internalized racism as she grew up surrounded by wealthy white families in a Memphis suburb. I also appreciated her observations and interrogations of anti-black racism and how she challenged these as she raised her child. The discussion around whether Shiv will feel Indian or accepted within the Indian diaspora community, even as they speaks Hindi was interesting. Another interesting aspect of the book was Shiv’s gender identity as their decision to dance, wear t-shirt hair and dresses or tutu is explored. Mehta discusses accepting and supporting Shiv’s decisions whilst also feeling similar surprise that her mother felt when she came out as gay. The dynamics of parenting are explored in this memoir as Mehra emphasizes the importance of telling the truth to Shiv and avoiding helicopter parents who try to protect their kids to their detriment. This memoir is also a reflection a reflection on grief as throughout the memoir Mehra considers her relationship with her deceased father and the debilitating loss she felt and sometimes continues to feel. She discusses how adopting Shiv also led to new feelings of grief around the loss of her father. Shiv also deals with grief as they process the lack of contact with birth mother and father. I wish that this memoir has spoken more about race, religion and identity between Nishta and Jill, however it focuses on their relationship with Shiv - not each other. I would like to have read about how they negotiated and addressed the age difference, racial identity, different views on family, different religious beliefs etc. Overall, would recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Ryan

    So I’ve finished in two days because I couldn’t put it down. I’ve been asked for a review so here it is. I found it emotional and enlightening. We are all a product of our experiences and no two people share exactly the same experiences, it’s what makes us individuals. Yet we live in a conformist society that does not celebrate differences. It made me exam my own biases as she does hers and i marveled at her honesty as it relates to parenting. The multiple layers of nonconformity in this family So I’ve finished in two days because I couldn’t put it down. I’ve been asked for a review so here it is. I found it emotional and enlightening. We are all a product of our experiences and no two people share exactly the same experiences, it’s what makes us individuals. Yet we live in a conformist society that does not celebrate differences. It made me exam my own biases as she does hers and i marveled at her honesty as it relates to parenting. The multiple layers of nonconformity in this family has been challenging and that comes through but what also comes through is the joy her family brings to her. Beautifully written and enlightening.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is such an important book, and I'm reading it at the perfect time. It's June and Pride month (not that you should only read LGBTQIA books during June), the country and world are protesting in support of Black Lives Matter, and I'm a White mom of a Black child via transracial adoption. I learned so much reading about her experience growing up in the White part of a very segregated city and how that's shaped the way she's parenting her child. This is such an important book, and I'm reading it at the perfect time. It's June and Pride month (not that you should only read LGBTQIA books during June), the country and world are protesting in support of Black Lives Matter, and I'm a White mom of a Black child via transracial adoption. I learned so much reading about her experience growing up in the White part of a very segregated city and how that's shaped the way she's parenting her child.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pretty_x_bookish

    I read a review of this book and I was really intrigued by the perspective of the writer. A queer woman of color, married to a white woman, raising a black child is as intersectional as you can get! The funny thing is that I got something completely different than Allison. I latched on to the first-gen narrative, more than her experience as a queer parent of color (though I did still find those chapters to be illuminating). Even though I identify as queer - the conversation around cultural code- I read a review of this book and I was really intrigued by the perspective of the writer. A queer woman of color, married to a white woman, raising a black child is as intersectional as you can get! The funny thing is that I got something completely different than Allison. I latched on to the first-gen narrative, more than her experience as a queer parent of color (though I did still find those chapters to be illuminating). Even though I identify as queer - the conversation around cultural code-switching hit home a lot more. I think that’s one of the really dope things about books - depending on the context of the reader, the meaning will change! • • I think that one of the things that really resonated with me, was her description of the experiences of first-gen Kids. I think that to a large degree, my generation of South African 🇿🇦 children and young adults can completely relate to that experience. We are first-gen kids in the country of our parents and ancestors birth. Which is such a tricky experience. Because as Nishta says - we constantly straddle two worlds: one rooted in culture and tradition and the other rooted in our newly formed democratic national consciousness. Its such a tricky space to exist in - which Nishta articulates with a depth and understanding that really resonates. Nishta also uses an amazing phrase “collaging one’s identity”, to describe the process of identity construction. Just visualizing that concept is such an accurate descriptor of how we experience the world now - and how all the sociocultural influences we come into contact with, form essential pieces of our selves. Especially if you’re a person of color existing in predominantly white, capitalist spaces. • • All in all - a really solid book that speaks to a number of key issues surrounding identity. I found Nishta’s perspective to be really interesting - and her writing was very thoughtful and illustrated a deep commitment to self-reflectivity. • • #Bookstagram #ReadQueer #BrownWhiteBlack #NishtaMehra #Queer #Bookstagramer #PrideMonth #Bookshelf #OwnVoices #DiverseSpines

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shari

    I really enjoyed this thought-provoking book. It was a memoir but also a discourse on race and gender.

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