Booklist – “Passing: When People Can’t Be Who They Are”

Kroeger, Brooke.
Sept. 2003, 240 p.
PublicAffairs $25 (1-891620-99-1). 302.

The term passing is most often thought of as racial minorities passing for white to receive the privileges denied them due to race. But Kroeger plumbs the varieties and complexities of passing across racial, sexual, and economic lines. She offers profiles of a black man who passed for a white Jew; a working-class Puerto Rican woman who became an Orthodox Jew and passed for privileged; a gay man at a conservative Jewish seminary passing for straight; a lesbian naval officer who passed for straight; and a respected poet who, on a lark, adopts a different persona and ends up writing pseudonymously about the rock-and-roll music scene. Kroeger intersperses these profiles with references in history, literature, psychology, and contemporary culture that explore the dynamics of passing — the lies and deception involved as well as the separation from community and family. She also explores the parallels between civil disobedience and passing, which, although it is a self-centered act, allows the passer to secure oppotunities in the present rather than waiting for social change. An engaging look at how certain people choose to deal with social inequities. — Vanessa Bush

Used with Permission © American Library Association

For National History Day contestantsUpcoming — January 30:  Iona College. February 4: Sagamore Hill. March 27: Ephemera Society of America. April 4: Avon-on-Sea Public Library, Avon CT June 4-6: “Métiers et professions des médias (XVIIIe-XXIe siècles),”  Université de Lausanne. Link to past appearances.

Coming March 2020: Front Pages, Front Lines: Media and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage, Linda Steiner, Carolyn Kitch, Brooke Kroeger, eds.