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At first I couldn t place the slight feeling of repulsion I felt when beginning this book Around the 50th page I realized that the sort of mental cringing I was experiencing was most similar to the unpleasant start I always have when I put headphones on during my radio show and hear how my voice sounds to other people This book is about having black parents who came to California and educated themselves and thus placed you in a yucky suburban landscape you hate than is necessary mostly because you have no idea what you re missing that s worse and because you ve read a lot of books that are about people and places that seem to be better If you turn to the back of the book acket you ll see a picture of Caillie Millner hair in a bun demure blouse and one of those smiles that probably doesn t like to get captured on film much at least not by strangers Ack Basically she s me But pale black instead of pale brown Obviously there are differences between the author and I her travels her Harvard degree her experience with drugs I think if you mush my adolescence together with my oldest brother s you ll come even closer to the narrative trace of this book Nevertheless I ve never read a story about passing that I identified so much with Or had the feeling of blushing at the precociousness of someone else s writing as if it were my own slightly undercooked outrage or my reflections on my youth while still basically young and therefore still not tempered with any great deal of wisdomThat doesn t make this a great book worthy of five stars maybe but I don t care because there are things about being a nerdy almost white girl in America that I ve never read anyone else write so well and I can t do any better so there you go A bit too self absorbed and uite pompous in her style of writing the word insufferable kept coming to mind as I read this book I was hoping to gain some insight into what it s like to grow up in a world in which you feel unmoored from a particular racial identitybackgroundtribe but instead of getting that I got a rambling diatribe from someone who seemed to be looking to pick a fight with everyone over almost everything There were some gems in this book such as her observation of how difficult it is to rally a neighborhood around issues they feel defeated by at the outset or the awkwardness of teenage friendships which cross a significant income divide or the excruciating painful visit with the family of your significant other when the relationship is already crumbling or how the kids in her school felt that she unfairly exploited them in her high school published article to land herself a ticket into Harvard Issues of identity and race are uite complex and there were moments in which Millner could have dived into unexplored territory but every time she
STARTED TO DO SO SHE SEEMED to do so she seemed get sidetracked and would meander off into a tale about some guy or another Whatever does HE have to do with this story I d wonder And did this woman never meet any women in her life outside of her family I never have heard of a heterosexual woman who can have so many intense almost compulsive relationships with single men who seem to not notice that she is a very attractive
FEMALE MEN I KNOW DON TMen I know don t like that I was interested to read this book since I grew up in San Jose knew her father etc The book was a disappointment While she does acknowledge her own advantage in life growing up in Almaden Valley going to Harvard she appears to like the sound of her own voice The fact that she has an aversion to uotation marks made it difficult for me to follow the voice The book moved around too much and didn t explore fully any aspect of her life I really enjoyed the family aspect wish the book would have explored that I could have done without the strange friends drugs etc I learned that she I went to the same high school 15 years apart We did not have the same experience she claimed racism at the school which wouldn t surprise me the administration shut her down I wish she would have discussed of her eating disorder and her personal relationships including her family The section on her time in South Africa went no where that is basically where the book ended Let me start by saying I do not trust Caille Millner It is not fair to begin reading a book this way I know however the initial expenditure of 25 dollars on a book will tell you I am open mindedI have lived in San Jose my entire life as a Mexican American Chicana is the word Millner uses although I find that to not describe the kind of Mexican I am I went to high school and community college here and both institutions share this city s name My brief time away from the 95112 and 95116 zip codes was for college ust. An extraordinary young writer's search for authenticity among the various communities of identity black Latino techno utopian Ivy League activist competing for her allegiance each with its distinct allures and perils California saved Caille Millner's parents or at least saved them from lives of poverty and oppression as black Americans growing up in racially benighted backwaters It provided them with a free education and opportunities for advancement into the solid middle class and even beyond But it did its damage too and to the young Caille Millner as well growing up in a Latino neighborhood in San Jose relocating to affluent but uietly hostile white bread Silicon Valley suburbs being transformed out of all rec. 30 minutes away so you see I have never been
far Perhaps this is a negative thing this proximity forming my view too tight and focused Perhaps being so MexicanPerhaps this is a negative thing this proximity forming my view too tight and focused Perhaps being so Mexican me acknowledge it even less because it is simply a fact of genetics and birthrightI did not ask for this I do see stereotypes come alive I wonder about public school education and urban blight because I have lived this life and to this day have ventured only intellectually as a means of escape from so called destiny My future is still yet to be setMillner focuses on the Mexican American culture because growing up in San Jose it was all around her so much that her brother identified himself practically as Mexican American There is one short story she tells us about a boy named Jaime a Mexican immigrant Jaime was invited to the Lake Tahoe for the weekend by the richest boy in middle school Later on that boy reflected that his father had stated that Jaime was speaking so openly and excitedly with the waitstaff apparently a taboo because he would most definitely be working at a place like that himself Poor little Jaime what was he thinking hanging around with the richest boy and going to Tahoe with him too boot I find it hard to believe that in middle school Millner and the rich boy even had this discussion where he divulged his familial feelings towards Mexicans in such a way But again that could ust be my distrustIt is rare to see a literary memoir come about from San Jose and even rarer for that writer to be a peer a young woman and lifelong writer I initially heard of Millner from the article about her in Metro I knew I would read this book because of its rarity and because of my interest in personal stories specifically literary Millner is a light skinned black girl with early identity issues that she worked out through academic success and most notably the written wordI have often considered the idea of race at first from a radical perspective and now with uncertainty I do not trust people s intellectualization of race because of its multifaceted nature I enjoy the concept and comfort that intellectual rationalization brings to those who choose to go that route But I know from lifelong experience that you cannot and will not reach out to those people you speak of through intellectual thought It is condescending and ust like the investment banker Millner cries about during her first years at Harvard it misses the entire pointMy proximity to San Jose to being Mexican and my heightened sensitivity to subtle racist slights might be my downfall I am going to visit my father who takes care of my grandmother who is 95 years old and spent her life out in the fields We do not talk about race because we know My father has told me anecdotal stories of times when the slights were not slights but rather straight up obvious hate We don t trust the media or politicians we do believe that we must take things into out own hands because no one is going to fix us the poverty and self doubt we must make those strides on our own and on our own timeMillner speaks from a sweet almost fictional place that I hope can be a dream for all young women of color It is from this ivory tower that Millner wrote this book not to la lucha or east San Jose and not to those cholos driving down Santa Clara in lowriders but to gain the respect of her pretentious father as well as her partners in academia at Harvard A coming of age memoir of a gifted young writer struggling with issues of cultural identity and social perception with a theme of the impact of gentrification running through a series of life experiencess in San Jose San Francisco London
New York and South Africa and at places as diverse as Harvard a Muslim neighborhood aYork and South Africa and at places as diverse as Harvard a Muslim neighborhood a girls school and a lowriders cruising nightOne of the strengths of the work beyond the forementioned elouence is the author s ability to realistically present what she was truly feeling and believing in the past and draw us in to identify with her perspective and then later in the work to step back and have us reassess the same situation again with the new insights and deeper understanding for the complex motiviations of others that devloping maturity and reflection can sometimes bring It is at core a reminder of how hard it is to grow up and the value of always being prepared for the possibility that empathy something that takes work to get right can lead to acknowledgement of even greater suffering and pain for others in the world yet can at the same time help the lone individual make truly meaningful and positive connections This is an interesting book to read in conjunction with What We Are by Peter Nathaniel Malae The latter is a novel and set a bit later in time although there. Ognition by boom times and then fleeing to a succession of utopian communities that in the end proved to be no less messy than the places she left behind The Golden Road is Caille Millner's frankly wonderful memoir of coming of age in a world in which the need for a stable identity and the need to embrace radical change all too often collide with conseuences at times hilarious and at times devastating Caille Millner is eually familiar with the high stress world of teenage strivers' gaming the system obsessed with college choice and the world nearby geographically but impossibly far away by any other measure of kids trapped in an entrenched underclass who don't have the first idea what that game even is or how one. Is some overlap Both however speak to growing up in the diversity of the Silicon Valley in the last uarter of diversity of the Silicon Valley in the last uarter of century As this is my home I know many of the places well that Millner describes in the book and though my race gender and age make me very different from her I can nevertheless appreciate the power she has to describe people places and behaviors I recognize and know An extremely curious book Started off as I expected and then completely changed course I d be curious to read other things by her She does have an unusual striking style My review is probably helpful than the star rating I immediately wanted to read The Golden Road sensing it would bare similarities to my experiences as a person of color in predominantly white schools I am slightly disappointed by the memoir Having lived a similar experience I felt certain aspects of the narrative were not fully Examined We Learn Most Of The Truths In The Memoir We learn most of the truths in the memoir Millner tells them to us not because we re shown And because most of the reviews seem to be wriiten by people of color who didn t attend independent schools in the 90s or are white they don t understand the nuances in the same way One reviewer described Millner as a participant observer but that s also a way to suggest Millner hasn t been an active heroine in her own lifeMillner s story is a bildungsroman that is what makes it interesting What Millner captures most realistically is the social isolation confusion neuroticism and inauthenticity of middle class life in the 90s Millner does position herself as the participant observer as opposed to the full center of a self created universe Her own story of confusion is interesting to me than her trying to understand the struggle of others or even the larger dialogue about race in the USMillner repeatedly refers to an eating disorder but seems reluctant to fully deconstruct her own illness and the commentary it makes on control and alienation Millner misses her opportunity to talk about an experience solidly her own that speaks to her isolation the middle class values she interrogates and race and gender Likewise Millner dances around the role of depression in her teenage years We as readers miss out on a great deal with these omissions It s hard to write a memoir when there are still things one does not wish to lay bareI found her discussion of growing up in a Latino neighborhood highly engaging as was her honest admission that she still harbors anger toward Latinos Here s what I was expecting from the memoir1 A deeper discussion of body politics 2 Millner understands her privilege in relation to others deprivation That s not the same as self reflection3 I don t know how she made it through high school or college without some comment about her hair That is a rite of passage for girls of color in private school4 A fuller discussion of sexual politics Millner speaks about how she has fallen in love yet again but never establishes why she has the pattern of falling in love so easily This could have been a great place to talk about seeking belonging through men and what it means when it s men you need to feel claimed Millner mentions that she is irritated by the Black community at Harvard s exclusion of Black gay men but doesn t talk about what she did to engage those who are exlcuded Millner also talks about a former friend Hans who sexually assaults her friend Millner s reaction is oddly distant 5 There are a coup Kinda boring Meandered I haven t said that about a book in a long time It gets the extra star because the takeaway was identity narratives Something I will probably carry with me and my ideas of writing and self for the rest of my life I stopped halfway through though because I couldn t take the dipping in and out of time frames with seemingly little relation to the original paragraph or even premise of the bookBut identity narratives Killer concept A memoir of a young African American woman growing up in a predominantly Latino San Jose California neighborhood I ust finished this book and found the last 13 to be bizarre It wandered and umped around to the point that I wanted to stop reading it but the first 23 were full of interesting observations This book was written by someone only two years older than me who also grew up in the Bay Area specifically San Jose and was one of a handful of Black students at an all girls high school The similarities betwwen myself and the author end there I could not relate AT ALL to the author s bitter often ranting diatribe against people I had to return this book to the library before I could reach the bitter end and doubt that I will borrow it again to finish I find Sylvia Plath uplifting and refreshing to rea. Gets on the playing field Throughout The Golden Road Millner navigates from one world to the other with breathtaking ease always the outsider but always genuinely struggling for empathy and connection The result is a book that tours the landscapes of possibility carved by race class and culture for young Americans and reckons with the prevailing fantasies and realities of internal immigration and gentrification through the prism of her own experiences with electrifying freshness and lucidity This is that rare thing a memoir that transcends its author's personal experiences to say something important and new about the broader culture without losing traction with the human story that gives it its astonishing power.