A writer and motivational speaker’s account of how she learned to embrace complex truths about her biracial ancestry that her dysfunctional family had kept hidden.
As a child, Maui native Abrams believed that her mother, Daisy, was Chinese and her father, George, was a white American. Both parents, who had come together for reasons of “desperation and addiction,” had told their daughter that her brown skin and curly hair were proof that she was Hawaiian. Their unstable union ended when Abrams was just 5 and George forced his unfaithful, alcoholic wife to leave. Growing up among white family members and in mostly white neighborhoods in California and Florida, Abrams always felt out of place. She finally learned the truth—that she had been the product of Daisy's premarital liaison with a black pilot—just before she turned 14. From that moment on, Abrams openly rebelled against her father's “oppressive regime” and binged on drugs, food, sex, and especially alcohol. At 18, she left Florida for New York to become a model. The city became a multiracial haven where she learned to love the blackness that she had negated. But alcoholism, bulimia, and a volatile temperament derailed her career aspirations and tore her personal life apart, as did two unexpected pregnancies by two different men who abused her. Despite the many complications she faced—a brief, but ultimately unhappy reunion with her Chinese mother, rejection by her Chinese relatives, and the tragic heroin-induced death of her sister—motherhood became the author’s salvation. “It was my love for them that forced me through circumstances that, had I been alone, would have caused me to give up on life,” she writes. Her ability to own her identity as a biracial woman with a troubled past is the greatest strength of this compelling narrative. Her book affirms that while personal history cannot be rewritten, an individual can always become “the author of [his or her] life.”
A searingly honest coming-of-age memoir.