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The Grace of Silence: A Memoir by Michele…
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The Grace of Silence: A Memoir (edition 2010)

by Michele Norris

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2081856,261 (3.71)9
Member:bfister
Title:The Grace of Silence: A Memoir
Authors:Michele Norris
Info:Pantheon (2010), Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:memoir, race relations, integration, Minneapolis

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The Grace of Silence: A Memoir by Michele Norris

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Insightful memoir weaves a narrative of the African American experience of the last 20/30 years that presents some stories that really leave you stunned. The stories related to Norris' own family are heartfelt but the one that made the most impression on me was that of Issac Woodard and his blinding at the hands of a Southern policeman. I love the details of Norris's writing. An example is when describing her search for the names of the officers involved in her father's arrest, she describes getting a sinus infection from the moldy pages and the comment on the various styles of penmanship from the policemen. I did admire the candid nature of some of the reminisces presented in the book. I also found interesting how she noted the downsides to desegregation in some neighborhoods. I think it shows how poverty is one of the main afflictions that serves the underbelly of other problems such as the education gap and indeed racism as well. ( )
  Humberto.Ferre | Sep 28, 2016 |
This memoir by Michele Norris, cohost of NPR's All Things Considered, delivers an informative, compelling view of race relations in the US. In uncovering long hidden instances from her family's past including her father being shot by a policeman and her Grandmother traveling around making pancakes as Aunt Jemima, she explores racism past and present. The book is thoughtful, informative and well researched. The ongoing struggle is also illuminated by examples from our nation's history. In addition to enjoying a well written memoir, I have gained more specific insights than available from my privileged white male perspective. ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
This memoir by Michele Norris, cohost of NPR's All Things Considered, delivers an informative, compelling view of race relations in the US. In uncovering long hidden instances from her family's past including her father being shot by a policeman and her Grandmother traveling around making pancakes as Aunt Jemima, she explores racism past and present. The book is thoughtful, informative and well researched. The ongoing struggle is also illuminated by examples from our nation's history. In addition to enjoying a well written memoir, I have gained more specific insights than available from my privileged white male perspective. ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
This book is definitely worth reading, and I am thinking of giving it to some of my friends. I don't agree with everything she says but I think that the book creates good conditions for real discussions.
  franoscar | Dec 23, 2014 |
I'm a little let down by this one. I picked this book up because I saw the author on the Today Show, and was fascinated by the concept of the book--Norris says she "set out to write, through original reporting, a book about 'the hidden conversation' on race that is unfolding nationwide. She would, she thought, base her book on the frank disclosures of others on the subject, but she was soon disabused of her presumption when forced to confront the fact that 'the conversation' in her own family had not been forthright."

Sounds really interesting, right? And, well, the stories she tells are interesting. But I guess I feel let down that she never really discusses how she is affected by that. Does that newly discovered history change her feelings about racial relations? Does it change...anything? She never really relates any of it to herself. She just shares the stories, guesses at her family members' motivations for hiding them, and then moves on.

Furthermore, I really would have enjoyed it if she'd written a bit about her intended subject. Once given the background we have about her family, it would have been far more meaningful to read her thoughts on the hidden conversation on race in the social and political climate today.

The book's OK. Norris is a good storyteller, but not a great writer--things are strung together a big oddly, and chapters end in abrupt places. Honestly, it felt like she could have covered her material far more concisely and efficiently--I kept wondering why we were reviewing certain chunks again and again. It just felt really disorganized. But I also thought it was worth sticking with it. 2.5 stars. ( )
  fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307378764, Hardcover)

In the wake of talk of a “postracial” America upon Barack Obama’s ascension as president of the United States, Michele Norris, cohost of National Public Radio’s flagship program All Things Considered, set out to write, through original reporting, a book about “the hidden conversation” on race that is unfolding nationwide. She would, she thought, base her book on the frank disclosures of others on the subject, but she was soon disabused of her presumption when forced to confront the fact that “the conversation” in her own family had not been forthright.
 
Norris unearthed painful family secrets that compelled her to question her own self-understanding: from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer weeks after his discharge from the navy at the conclusion of World War II to her maternal grandmother’s peddling pancake mix as an itinerant Aunt Jemima to white farm women in the Midwest. In what became a profoundly personal and bracing journey into her family’s past, Norris traveled from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South to explore the reasons for the “things left unsaid” by her father and mother when she was growing up, the better to come to terms with her own identity. Along the way she discovered how her character was forged by both revelation and silence.
 
Extraordinary for Norris’s candor in examining her own racial legacy and what it means to be an American, The Grace of Silence is also informed by rigorous research in its evocation of time and place, scores of interviews with ordinary folk, and wise observations about evolving attitudes, at once encouraging and disturbing, toward race in America today. For its particularity and universality, it is powerfully moving, a tour de force.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Michele Norris, host of National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," set out, through original reporting, to write a book about "the hidden conversation on race" that is going on in this country. But along the way she unearthed painful family secrets. Extraordinary for Norris's candor in examining her own complex racial legacy, "The Grace of Silence" is also informed by hundreds of interviews with ordinary Americans and wise observations about evolving attitudes toward race in America.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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