Mishna Wolff is a white girl in every sense of the word living in a predominately black neighborhood in Seattle's Central District. Mishna is poor just like everyone in her neighborhood but the difference is, she's poor and white with no rhythm or swagger to speak of. Think, Steve Martin in the Jerk. In this book, Mishna is essentially Navin Johnson but instead of being white in an all black household, she's white in an all white household. The trouble is, her father acts and talks just like the black dads from her hood which makes it that much more difficult for her to adapt in any situation.
"He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esque sweater, gold chains and a Kangol -- telling jokes like Redd Foxx, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson," Wolff writes. "You couldn't tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried."
Nothing makes Mishna's father happier than when she shows signs of being black. Mishna tries with all her might to be as black as a white girl can be which is difficult for her to do. She struggles with her identity and the identity of her father. Even her little sister has more girlfriends than she does, dang.
Mishna begins to immerse herself in her studies so that some day she can break away from the hood and live a better life. "You think you're better than this family." Her dad would say. Mishna is torn. She wants to be better, but she wants to be a real family too.
I liked this book very much. I feel like Mishna and I walked in similar shoes in some cases. I grew up in the same neighborhood and was in the same Individual Progress Program that Mishna was in. And though I'm a black girl, I have no rhythm or swagger to speak of either. We south end rhythm-less girls have to stick together you know. I highly recommend this very short read.