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A profoundly moving and deeply personal memoir by the co-host of National Public Radio’s flagship program All Things Considered.
While exploring the hidden conversation on race unfolding throughout America in the wake of President Obama’s election, Michele Norris discovered that there were painful secrets within her own family that had been willfully withheld. These revelations—from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer to her maternal grandmother’s job as an itinerant Aunt Jemima in the Midwest—inspired a bracing journey into her family’s past, from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South.
The result is a rich and extraordinary family memoir—filled with stories that elegantly explore the power of silence and secrets—that boldly examines racial legacy and what it means to be an American.
“An insightful, elegant rendering of how the history of an American family illuminates the history of our country.” —Toni Morrison
“Exquisite . . . [A] rich account of family history.” —Seattle Times
“Powerful and heartbreaking. . . . [Norris] explores race within her family history while tracing its complex legacy in the United States.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A riveting, inspiring memoir of an at once singular and representative American family. Norris takes us on a painful yet triumphant journey of self-discovery. . . . Powerful and tender, The Grace of Silence reveals our human complexity in exemplary fashion.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., University Professor and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, and author of Colored People
“A deeply personal reflection on what her parents and grandparents did and did not tell her about her history and identity as a black woman. . . . A fresh and candid reflection on this most important conversation.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Gracefully written and carefully researched, it offers up long-buried family secrets as a testimony to racism’s power and reach.” —Los Angeles Times
“A powerful plea to readers to doggedly pursue their families’ story lines. She reminds us that speaking candidly about race in America starts not at the president’s teleprompter but at our own dinner tables.” —The Washington Post
“An open and honest examination of race relations in her family’s and the country’s past.” —Chicago Tribune
“Jaw-dropping. Can’t put down. . . . Riveting. . . . [Norris] uses her signature calm and steady voice to open up about her complicated relatives.” —Essence
“A revealing, affectionate and sometimes painful memoir which dispenses with stereotype to get to the heart of what makes a family.” —Gwen Ifill, Moderator, “Washington Week,” PBS
“With learned candor, [Norris] describes the corrosive effect of family stories left untold. . . . We may not hear those stories until we ask for them. But some things simply must be said.” —Ms.
“Revelatory, heart-piercing.” —The Baltimore Sun
“In the hands of a gifted storyteller, a memoir becomes more than a chronicle of the writer’s life. It becomes the history of a time and a place. So it is with this magnificent memoir—one of the most eloquent, moving and insightful memoirs I have ever read.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of the New York Times bestseller Team of Rivals
“Letter-perfect, beguiling . . . powerful. . . . Her well rounded view of the world demonstrates wisdom given by her strong, intelligent mother and her hard-working, proud father.” —Louisville Courier-Journal
“Michele Norris takes us on a riveting personal journey from north to south and back again through the tangled landscape of race in America—and teaches anew about the pain and possibilities of our past and future.” —Tom Brokaw, author of New York Times bestsellers The Greatest Generation and Boom