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

The Suffragents won the Gold Medal in US History in the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Brooke’s “Summer Camp Newsletters” (with photos and often video) and Facebook posts from book-related appearances. Reviews, notices, and articles about her books under their titles here. National History Day contestants, please read this.

Next up: Scarsdale Women’s Club, March 13, 2019.