This book is daunting in size; around 500 pages of intertwined memoir, history, and research. That said, most of the time spent reading is worth it. The first section of the book follows Broyard’s direct narrative in a traditional memoir style as she and her brother learn their family secret: that their father, Anatole Broyard, had African American ancestry.
Reflection on her father keeping this part of himself secret: “Did he ever contemplate telling me? Was he looking at me and considering just how black I seemed? Was he thanking his lucky stars once again that my hair was not curly, not kinky, that my skin was olive, not dusky, that my lips were thin, my nose only slightly wide, and that my ass was small? Did he worry that someday one of us might be found out?” (73).
The middle section of the book delves deep into the Broyard family history, as she traces her father’s family to the 1700s. The third section follows the same timeline structure focusing on her father’s upbringing, him meeting her mother, and slides right back into Bliss Broyard’s point of view. This is an important piece of work, and I find it incredible that Broyard could bring together that much family history.
This video is an introduction to the premise of the book:
Here’s an interview she did about the book (though the reporter guy is a bit annoying):