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An editor and avid reader gives her frank thoughts about everything she reads. More reviews and book blather on fefferbooks.com!

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The Grace of Silence

The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir (Vintage) - Michele Norris

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.