Friday, September 29, 2017

Real American by Julie Lythcott-Haims

I received a free copy of Real American: A Memoir in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

To be published by Henry Holt & Co. on October 3, 2017

Lythcott-Haims (How to Raise an Adult) has written a bold, impassioned memoir that explores the emotional and cultural divide imposed by American racism on people of mixed race. Born in 1967 to an African-American father and a white British mother, she was proud that her parents “broke the rules” despite the racial sneers and ridicule she experienced growing up in Palisades, N.Y., and Madison, Wis. However, the steadfast support of her loving mother and of her father, an accomplished physician appointed by President Carter as assistant surgeon general in 1977, couldn’t prepare the insecure, mixed-race teen for navigating a white world (“I don’t think of you as Black. I think of you as normal,” says one high school friend while the two were watching Gone with the Wind). Upon graduating from Stanford University (she would serve as dean of freshmen there years later), Lythcott-Haims married a white Jewish man and gave birth to “quadroon children,” which further complicated her quest for self-understanding. Later, she became empowered through her determination not to let hate define her or the lives of her children. Riveting and deeply felt, Lythcott-Haims’s memoir sheds fresh light on race and discrimination in American society.

This book appealed to me because...

I've read Ms. Lythcott-Haims' previous book, How to Raise an Adult, and learned so much from her about how parenting styles have changed over the years and how it affects child development.  So when I heard she was coming out with a memoir, I was so intrigued because she is such an accomplished and intelligent woman.

Upon reading it...

This book is a memoir by the author, who tells her story of growing up as a black woman in America.  Each chapter talks about different periods of her life and how she grew up in mostly white neighborhoods all her life and was ashamed at being black and having a white mother and black father, who tried too hard to make her accept herself.

I truly loved the way the book was written and I found myself getting lost within the pages of the memoir.  Constantly going back to mark pages and sections that resonated with me.  Though I am not black, Ms. Lythcott-Haims writes of feelings and doubts that any person who has ever felt like an outsider can understand and connect with.

She not only explains racism as it appears on the outside, but also how it feels to have to carry that extra burden of being different around all her life.  I cannot even imagine what it would be like to have to explain to my children about what to do if they ever get pulled over by the police, because since their skin is different everything they do is suspicious.  What kind of a world is this!?  Where people have to talk to their children about the possible dangers of the people who are supposed to be protecting them?

This book talks about the truth that we cannot understand.  I am glad to have read it and I have learned so much from it that I never knew before.  With everything going on with the world now, this is one of those books that will help us build a better future.  To make us better Americans.


"There's love at first sight.  There's American at first sight.  And from dozens of "where are you from" interactions with Americans over the years, I've learned that American at first sight is about looks - primarily skin color and hair texture - not nationality."


"These newly emboldened "Real Americans" issue angry orders to the rest of us: "If you don't like it, go back to where you came from."

There is no back to where I came from.

You stole my homeland from me.
Me from my homeland, I mean.
I don't even know where it is.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


  1. Ah sounds like a good read. will check it out!

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