Title: Secret Daughter
Author: June Cross
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (April 24, 2007)
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:
First Sentence:

I search for my mother’s face in the mirror and see a stranger.

June Cross, the author, was born to a white mother and a black father. At a time when the color of your skin was decisive of the way you live your life and the privileges you were given, June Cross couldn’t decide what she was.

June’s mother Norma was an aspiring actress and a single woman when she gave birth to June. She kept June with her until she could pass as a white girl. But as she grew up her color started to darken and then she could no longer pass as exotic in her mother’s white world. To hide the fact that she had given birth to a child of a black man, Norma left her with Peggy, her black friend who lived in Atlanta and was pretty secure in her little world.

Peggy and her husband Paul had no child of their own so they kept June with them. Norma visited her or called her to visit New York according to her convenience. Her entire life June craved for her mother to accept her as her own instead of telling people she was her niece or her friend. She was shuttled in two different worlds, Norma’s free and open world in New York and Peggy small and conservative world in Atlanta.

For me, there was a major negative point for the first hundred pages of this book. When sentences like ‘When I was five’ start appearing on every alternate page, you tend to think how a girl so young could remember so much. That kind of spoiled the first 100 pages for me. I even considered not finishing it as I was so irritated by it. But that could just be my problem. Somewhere after the 100 pages, something changed. June grew up ๐Ÿ™‚ And no one could argue whether a teenage girl could remember things, right?

I’m so glad I did not keep this book aside. I really enjoyed the rest of the book. Norma, I think, was very selfish. Sorry for judging, but I just can’t help it. Whereas I could understand why she did what she did with June, her other children weren’t quite kept close either. She gave her first girl for adoption and sent her second son to boarding school. All she could think of was how they could affect her career or Larry’s, whom she married later.

This book really gave me an insight into how the lives of black and white American people were affected because of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s. For example, when the US government gave orders to integrate the schools. Also the rule that no colored man could play himself in a movie or a theatre production. That rule changed and it affected Larry, Norma’s husband who made a living by playing people from different backgrounds. This book gave two different perspectives, the back and the white which was very intriguing to read.

The author was pretty honest about her feelings and I can only imagine how much pain she would have gone through remembering and writing this book.

The more I think or write about this book, the more I want to increase the rating, so I’ll stop here. Definitely recommended if you like memoirs, or want to learn more about the Civil Rights movement without stressing your brain too much and without getting into too many details. The story of June Cross is worth reading, if only to learn how a black woman has managed to give voice to thousands of stories similar to her own and highlight the struggles bi-racial children went through.

June Cross produced a documentary called Secret Daughter which won an Emmy Award in 1997. The documentary was an inspiration to write the book.

P.S: Please do have a look at the site here; it’s really pretty and informative.

This book was from AuthorMarketingExpert. Thanks Paula.