Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jenniemae and James: A Memoir in Black and White, by Brooke Newman

I'm not overly fond of memoirs. Or of stories that feature African-American maids who "become part of the family" without acknowledging the families that those women could not be with because they were working to provide care for a white family. Since both of those descriptors fit this book, a sensible person might ask why I read it. And I am asking myself the same thing. I can only say I got it free at a Boulder Bookstore event a couple of years ago and it was the book that popped into my hand when I was looking for something to read over the weekend.

I don't recommend Jenniemae and James--it's not well written and the relationship the book purports to be about--between the author's brilliant but eccentric mathematician father and the African-American maid with an interest in numbers--is not depicted in a way that allows us to understand it in any depth. I feel sure the author achieved some therapeutic benefit from writing the book, but reading it is another story.

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