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Surviving the White Gaze  By  cover art

Surviving the White Gaze

By: Rebecca Carroll
Narrated by: Rebecca Carroll
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Publisher's Summary

An Esquire Best Book of 2021

A “gorgeous and powerful” (The New York Times Book Review) memoir from cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely White childhood to forge her identity as a Black woman in America.

Rebecca Carroll grew up the only Black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic - and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older.

Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young White woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen Black family, she was able to heal.

“Generous, intimate, searching, and formidable” (The Boston Globe), Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today.

©2021 Rebecca Carroll. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Editor's Pick

A crushing, necessary reflection on race, identity, and family
If you strip any story down to its bare bones, there’s bound to be some rumination on identity and belonging. All of us, at our core, are constantly searching for who we are and where we belong, hunting for that place where we feel most at peace, welcomed, celebrated. And while there is such a universality to this quest for selfhood, there is also a complex element faced uniquely by people of color: the pursuit of both a sense of racial identity and a culture and community reflective and responsive to that identity. In her introspective, soul-baring memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, Rebecca Carroll reflects on her upbringing as the Black child of white adoptive parents in an all-white rural community. And though her parents offered endless love and compassion, depriving Carroll of access to her Black identity, culture, and history left a sense of longing and isolation in its wake. A heartfelt exploration of race, othering, and the communities we are born into and those we find along the way, Surviving the White Gaze is a contemplative standout in the genre—and Carroll’s narration, soft and gentle with a deep sense of thoughtfulness, is the perfect companion to every vivid recollection. —[Alanna M., Audible Editor]

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What listeners say about Surviving the White Gaze

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Outstanding

Maybe not everyone is ready for this book. It is so honest about race, gender, and coming of age in America. Rebecca Carroll put in the work to write this clearly. For those readers who do not “get it,” perhaps you have your own work to do.

6 people found this helpful

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Wow!

Even if black/white racial tensions weren't running high in the USA right now, I would still recommend this book. This bi-racial author has lead an utterly riveting life. She narrates her own life story and I couldn't wait to resume listening after every necessary break.

5 people found this helpful

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Raw. Honest. Enlightening.

Beautifully worded, but with the undeniable harsh truths of racism, the book was a powerful listen.

3 people found this helpful

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This is a must read!

I really enjoyed this book, I’ve had a similar upbringing with being mixed and raised only by my white side. I so appreciate her story and struggles with her mom and adoptive family. I hope more stories of people of color growing up in a white family, come out that are this honest and open.

3 people found this helpful

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Healing

A very intimate and beautiful, and thoughtful. Careful and very brave. I loved it and I think it speaks very well to why color blindness doesn’t work. And the abuse of overt racism as well as the many micro aggressions that occur.

2 people found this helpful

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just what I needed

I have longed for such a book. As a white woman who was raised in rural America with no exposure to other races or culture, I always thought we would all mix and merge into one beautiful blend at some point in the future. I was so naïve to not realize that more people were fighting such a scenario than wanting it. I didn't know that it wasn't just the racist white men and women with small closed minds that were opposed but the proud blacks who prefer their culture to a merged one. And I see why. What an amazing author. I am eager to read more of her honest appraisal of life in these United States.

2 people found this helpful

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Moving Tale of Courage and Strength

This was such a jaw dropping, moving and inspirational read. Your courage and strength moved me to tears.

1 person found this helpful

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Great listen

When I first started the book I didn’t think I’d enjoy just the narration. But the story was so good and so much thought and discussion can come from it.

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Excellent read.

Great voice to listen to. Powerful story of love, trauma and reconciliation. Enjoyed every life shaping moment.

1 person found this helpful

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Compelling, Real, Poignant.

Rebecca Carroll’s reading of her own memoir makes it that much more impactful. All I can say is Thank You to Rebecca Carroll for sharing her life, her struggles, and her joy with the world. I learned a great deal about myself in these pages.

1 person found this helpful