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I'm Down

A Memoir
Wolff, Mishna (Book - 2008)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
I'm Down
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Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. "He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol--telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson. You couldn't tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried," writes Wolff. And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter Down . Unfortunately, Mishna didn't quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldn't dance, she couldn't sing, she couldn't double dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team. She was shy, uncool and painfully white. And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too "black" to fit in with her white classmates. I'm Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.
Authors: Wolff, Mishna
Title: I'm down
a memoir
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2008
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: viii, 272 p. :,ill. ;,cm
Statement of Responsibility: Mishna Wolff
ISBN: 0312378556
Branch Call Number: 792.7028092 W855i 2008
Subject Headings: Models (Persons) United States Biography Comedians United States Biography African American neighborhoods Washington (State) Wolff, Mishna Family Wolff, Mishna Childhood and youth
Topical Term: Models (Persons)
African American neighborhoods
LCCN: 2008046317
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From Library Staff

I'm Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

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Although Mishna Wolff writes about some challenges she faced, she manages to tell everything with a great sense of humor. I really enjoyed this book because Wolff's descriptions of her interactions between different people of different races help understand what it was like to be in her situation.

Jul 24, 2012
  • TumTumMcPuff rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A coming-of-age memoir from a unique perspective that is hindered by a lack of commentary. Wolff is most effective when employing a certain ironic tone, but often falls flat with repetitive "and then this happened, and then this happened" chronology that seems to be going somewhere but then is promptly dropped. It's also as though she takes for granted that we find her parents as charming/challenging as she does now as an adult. However, she does little to make the reader see that other than sporadic interjections that her parents view her as anything other than a free babysitter or a hassle.

This coming-of-age story is interesting but, to be honest, I didn't feel the excitement other readers have written about. The situation was somewhat unique (growing up white in a mostly black neighborhood in Seattle) but sometimes the details about incidental matters were tedious to me.
I would've liked the author to add more content that would place her experiences in context (such as stats on Seattle's diversity vs her neighborhood's diversity, the public schools diversity vs the local private schools etc.) Many non-Seattleites laugh out loud at what we might call our inner-city and say we have no idea what a ghetto is really like.
I'm really curious how the author's family feels about her memoir. The risk of hurting the family is a dilemma for all who write memoirs.

Aug 07, 2010
  • Exactly rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A really funny look at growing up in Seattle's Ranier Valley.


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Aug 23, 2010
  • miranda57 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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