Remember Me. Forgot your password? Close Login. Forgot Password. Close Reset Password. Processing Please Don't Refresh the Page. Browse Books. Learn More. Play Sample. Give as a Gift Send this book as a Gift! Book Rating 2. Publisher: Tantor Media Date: July Duration: 8 hours 7 minutes. Similar Titles. This title is due for release on July 16, Realizing she can never be all, she leaves to live with her mother, finding a new peace and outlook on life.
Wisdom enters with the realization that even rich kids have messed up lives and she needs to own her own, center herself, to attain any goals she holds. Filled with much the same parents, sibling adoration, smack-yourself-in-the-head situations and financial deprivation, it is inspiring to see her win in the end.
Jun 22, Lillian rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction. I read this book cover to cover in one day. It kept me hooked throughout but left me with many questions. Mishna Wolff's harrowing childhood was defined by her struggle to fit in--first, as the lone white kid in her predominantly African-American neighborhood and later, as the lone poor kid in the predominantly white, upper class school she tested into. Wolff does a beautiful job capturing the vulnerability of being a kid; she makes the reader feel keenly the moments of painful embarrassment she I read this book cover to cover in one day.
Wolff does a beautiful job capturing the vulnerability of being a kid; she makes the reader feel keenly the moments of painful embarrassment she had to navigate. Although she depicts her childhood self somewhat deprecatingly, it's hard not to admire this young girl's inventiveness and grit. When a classmate asks why her lunch ticket is a different color than everyone else's, she says that it's because she's allergic to raisins. I wish, though, that Wolff had delved deeper into her father's psychology. Her father, a charismatic man who seemed to fit utterly smoothly into the African-American community, still remains a mystery to me.
Wolff speculates little on where his intense need to be black came from or why he had so much trouble holding down a job. She alludes vaguely to her father's threatening physical presence both she and her mom seemed to live in constant fear of him , but she never shines a clear light on this aspect of their relationship. In fact, she seems determined to "find the good" in all of her family members, even though her father and her stepmom Yvonne treated her, on many occasions, horribly. Wolff can't seem to let go of her need to be daddy's girl, and the book's warm and fuzzy final scene struck me as, at best, overly optimistic.
Jul 25, Dee rated it did not like it. I hated this book so much. I tried and tried to enjoy it but I just couldn't. I read it in it's entirety hoping the humor would come in at some point. The premise sounded fantastic but the writing was flat.
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Nothing about this story was funny. More then anything it sounded so sad. She never fit in, she was treated like crap, she stood in the shadow of her younger sister, who always was "down" and could do no wrong and her dad treated her kinda crappy. The weird part abou I hated this book so much.
The weird part about it is that her dad did things that my dad also did but I don't ever remember feeling all too bad about it. I believe that she may have stayed in a black neighborhood but she didn't LIVE in a black neighborhood. Her writing just didn't reflect it. It almost sounded as if she was telling someone else's story, not hers.
She just came off as extremely weak and kind of a nag in this book. She was extremely irritating and her writing reflected that. Jul 03, Anita rated it it was amazing. I loved this book. It reminded me of The Glass Castle. It doesn't cover quite the same time-span as GC but it is packed with similar elements; the well-intentioned but misguided parents, the poverty, the confusion that comes with growing up, and ultimately figuring some things out despite a million obstacles.
It's funny, sad, and short, and I liked the way it covered themes of race and class. It is a weirdly profound little tale told from a kid's-eye-view. Oh, and the cover is priceless. Every t I loved this book. Every time I look at it, it makes me smile. May 16, Tracey rated it it was ok Shelves: hardcover-feedback. I'm glad Mishna Wolff wrote about the uncommon story of her childhood, though I don't feel like I got enough of it.
In some ways, her experience featured a lot of the typical b. Reading about Wolff struggling to a I'm glad Mishna Wolff wrote about the uncommon story of her childhood, though I don't feel like I got enough of it. Reading about Wolff struggling to adapt to her parents' split and her sudden dunking into a new environment got painful fast.
Fortunately, Wolff's humor tempers the ouch factor though she really did sound pathetic at first , and, happily, she does adapt well though never as well as her younger sister, who, it's obvious from the start, Wolff loves and doesn't blame for anything. The memoir, such as it is, has a couple of problems. For one, it's shorter than I wanted. It cuts off in Wolff's early teens with no mention of what's gone on in her life since or how her former experience shaped her adulthood. Yes, I can see from the jacket bio she's a "former model" and a "humorist. The memoir gets more like a novel toward the end and wraps up very much like one; I wish I could mean that in a good way.
The other, bigger problem with the memoir is that Wolff seems mad as hell--at her father, mainly--and grapples with keeping a lid on her anger hard. It's like, she's been furious with her dad, so she wrote this book about it, but she's trying not to say just how mad she is. The way the book wraps up tells me that Wolff wrote this in part to come to terms with her father, but her largely negative portrayal of him speaks louder to how furious she is with him still, on some deep level.
Wolff's still smarting. I would like to have read more about her life beyond the point where the book stops. Her life wasn't all about her dad and his choices, but her memoir certainly makes it seem that way. Aug 11, Robin rated it it was amazing Shelves: funny , for-grown-ups , sad , biography-memoir , the-baaads. I have been wanting to read this for months! Through the magic of ILL, it is now mine.
This book is fascinating and mesmerizing. Wolff tells the story of her upbringing with amazing humor and calm. Throughout the book, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Her style is clearly funny, but her stories are full of such unfairness and the bewilderment of a child who simply is not being taken care of. From her perspective, no adult and no other child in her life has even bothered to try to fi I have been wanting to read this for months! From her perspective, no adult and no other child in her life has even bothered to try to figure out why she does the weird and out of place things she does, or even to make sure she has something to eat.
I know the marketing push and the draw of this book is her toggling between an economically impoverished black neighborhood and a posh school for gifted mostly white kids, but I was struck much more by the sheer neglect she and her sister and the kids of both neighborhoods experienced at the hands of their parents. The scenes in the GSCC summer program -- Kids left to fend for themselves in an indoor lord of the flies -- This memoir ends when she is still a kid; I'd like to read the story of how she came out of that with any sense of self to become this writer and this woman who can smirk at us from the back flap of the book jacket.
View 1 comment. Jun 22, Joshua rated it really liked it. I was shown the book by a good friend at work, and we though it looked funny. However, my sensitivities were heightened about this book by another good friend of mine, and so I went in ready to be offended by it. I probably would have put off reading it for a while if not for a friend of mine from work that wanted to read it as well. At first, I could not help but think, "This does in fact seem a little racist. We can't call her a racist as she is unjustly called by her own family just because she grew up in these circumstances.
She was merely dealing with the things that life threw at her the best way that she knew how. That being said, this book is a funny, touching story of pre-teen angst. Wolff deals with trying to fit in no matter where she goes, whether it is day-care, elementary school, sports or her own home. Her father is truly exasperating throughout the book, but by the end they have come to a slightly sad yet touching conclusion.
Definitely put your fears about this book aside and give it a read! View all 7 comments. Sep 15, Alaska rated it it was ok. I had hoped that this book would be as hilarious as promised, but it was often just extremely distressing to read. What was likely meant to be read as a series of dark yet humorous anecdotes about Wolff's childhood read more like a seemingly never-ending list of times Wolff was failed, gaslighted, or outright victimized by the adults in her life.
Finding little to none of the comedic relief I kept searching for, the book just kept getting more and more anxiety-inducing. Overall, the book was not I had hoped that this book would be as hilarious as promised, but it was often just extremely distressing to read. Overall, the book was not terribly written and Wolff's story is very much an interesting one. However, it's certainly not the hilarious and interesting perspective on race in America that it's made out to be. Apr 12, Robin rated it really liked it. I'm skeptical about memoirs now. It wasn't just James Frey that made me skeptical.
Since then, there have been many memoirs, both published and unpublished, that have proven to be false. So, while I very much liked this book, I'm not at all convinced that it was true. The beautiful thing is that it doesn't matter. If it is true, great. I can't wait to read the rest of the story. If it isn't true, great. The writing was engaging and it read like fiction I'm skeptical about memoirs now. The writing was engaging and it read like fiction. It moved along fast and there weren't really any lulls to skim through.
I almost wish this book was fiction, because that would make the narrator a lot more reliable. But I wonder how it really was. But, if these things are happening to you, then of course you're going to spin them with your own interpretation.
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That, and you're only privvy to the conversations you had access to. The other thing was that the book ended too soon. Unless she's planning to do another one, and maybe she is, I thought it ended way too early. What happened in high school? What happened with her parents? What happened post high school?
I know it was supposed to be about her "growing up" but it just seemed to end in an awkward place. I wanted to know more. I suppose wanting to know more is the best compliment you can give a memoir. If you're planning to read this book and from the cover how could you NOT want to read it don't expect any deep philosophical answers about race relations or anything else from it. Expect to be entertained, and you won't be disappointed.
Seriously, who decided to market this as a humor book?
The Brain Lair: Review - I'm Down by Mishna Wolff
I would like to meet the person in charge who thought that was a good idea. This isn't a humorous book. There is nothing funny about Mishna's story, and I hated her quite a lot because she wrote this book, she's narrating this book, and she either sold it as a humor book, or allowed it to happen. This is the story of a little girl who is an outcast for being white, both by classmates and her complete vagabond asshole of a father. Then she move Seriously, who decided to market this as a humor book? Then she moves to a new school, and is outcast because she's poor, so she makes up extravagant stories.
Her father is practically ashamed of her for being intelligent, and my brain nearly exploded from irritation throughout the first few chapters. Her mother is completely useless, refusing to stand up against him. Then we get the stepmother in, who is a total cuntwaffle, and who seriously blames her for her father's shitty van not having properly closing back doors, and allowing a, what, 6 year old?
To go flying out the back of the damn van. Seriously, this was a fucking laugh a minute. With the fire of a thousand suns, hate. Feb 19, Roberta rated it really liked it Shelves: memoir. A memoir by a woman who grew up in Seattle in the '80s, raised by a white father who truly seemed to think he was black. Mishna does everything to please him - turning herself inside out to be"down". The book is snort your coke funny in places. I'm not surprised to hear that Wolff is a comedian. It's very sharply observed and her turn of phrase can be brilliant. The book is also sad and pathetic, especially when Mishna's dad fails to stand up for or acknowledge her for who she actually is.
It's a A memoir by a woman who grew up in Seattle in the '80s, raised by a white father who truly seemed to think he was black. It's a very interesting view of the cultural divide between black and white in the US.
I'm Down: A Memoir (Hardcover)
It seems the difference is more to do with class and opportunity and that this book is about being poor and black as opposed to rich and white. I'm not sure all black people love capping, rapping and saxaphone insted of violin and academics. And poor parenting knows no cultural, financial or racial boundary; the neglect of children is surprising and upsetting. One quibble I have is that the whole book is told in the same voice and that voice is an adult's. I got the sense of memory recreated and understood from an adult perspective, which is fine except that isn't how she is presenting it.
Apr 26, Terry rated it it was ok Shelves: memoir. Well, I read this in one day, so it must be pretty good Eh, it was only okay. I felt like the story was more about class than it was about race. Tt's not like she connected to the people in her neighborhood AT ALL, so I don't feel like she was torn between two races, which is what the book is publicized as being about, as much as she was torn between her impoverished family and the private school she attended for smart white kids.
Once she befriended people at her new school the kids Well, I read this in one day, so it must be pretty good Once she befriended people at her new school the kids on her street, literally and metaphorically, fade from her life and her consciousness. This book did remind me quite a bit of Angela Ashworth's Once in a House on Fire, which I think is fantastic, but Wolff's tone is a bit desperately irreverant, which bothered me. It's also reminsicient of Jeanette Wall's The Glass Castle, where a fantastically accomplished woman lingers over the memory of her childhood poverty in a way that seems a tiny bit off-putting.
May 02, Brown Girl Reading rated it did not like it. I absolutely hated this book! Nov 11, Jennifer rated it liked it Shelves: memoir. Book Overview Mishna Wolff was born to white hippie parents in Vermont. However, when her family moves back to Seattle, her father drops the pretense of being "a white man" and becomes the "black man" he fancies himself to be. Having grown up in a predominantly black neighborhood during his childhood, Mishna's father immerses himself in the speech patterns, clothing and culture of his black friends.
He expects his daughters to do the same. For Mishna's younger sister Anora, this wasn't a problem. However, Mishna has a hard time finding her place in the neighborhood hierarchy of kids. And when her parents divorce and her mom moves out, she finds herself struggling to fit in. Left largely to her own devices, Mishna must find her own way to survive.
When her dad enrolls the girls in summer camp, Mishna is out of her element and regularly terrorized by the other children. But her quick wit and smarts help her find a survival strategy that works for her: capping. Capping is the fine art of "yo mama" jokes where participants engage in trading escalating insults. Mishna excels at capping, and it is her lifeline in the hard-knock world of kid society. I was becoming a machine—or at least I thought I was. All I know is I had purpose: 1.
Me ruling. You sucking. I had aspirations. I had goals. I had a lot of friends, and a lot of bruises. But just as Mishna begins to fit in at the neighborhood, her mom steps in and gets her transferred to a school for gifted children. Feeling she has found her place in the world at last, Mishna is excited—even thought attending the school means a long commute on city buses. Alas, although Mishna finds herself with children who have the same skin tone, she is still an outsider.
Now she doesn't fit in because her family is poor. Her survival method of capping doesn't quite work at her new school, and she is forced to find another way to fit in. Eventually, she finds a small group of friends who bond over drawing and fantasy stories think elves and wizards. But she finds an escape for her increasingly difficult home life at her friends' homes. Sleepovers were like mini-vacations for me. I got to step out of my family responsibilities and into my friends' homes where I was catered to like a crippled person.
Dad wasn't in the habit of asking if he could make me something to eat, or if I wanted him to rent me something while he was at the video store. In fact, the last time I'd had Zwena over, he got her to clean the kitchen after I made dinner. Besides documenting her struggles to fit in to "kid society" in the neighborhood and at school, the book also chronicles her difficult and confusing relationship with her father, who she alternately loves and loathes. Mishna is torn between loyalty to her father and her wish to escape the lifestyle he inflicts on the family.
He dates a series of successful and attractive black women, and each one seems like a potential lifeline to Mishna—an escape from the dirty, uncertain household her farther provides. Here is Mishna describing the visit to her father's new girlfriend's apartment: And the whole place was covered in light cream carpet—which I tiptoed onto like it was hot lava. I knew that cream was for careful people, and no matter how Dad was acting, that wasn't us.
We were the kind of people who needed dirt-colored things.
Eventually, her father remarries, and Mishna gains some new siblings. But, increasingly, her aspirations and dreams drive her to move in with her biological mother. In the end, Mishna is faced with a choice: staying with her sister and father in the life she is familiar with but never really fit or moving in with her mother and pursuing her dreams for the future. My Thoughts I'm a bit conflicted how I felt about this book. On one hand, parts of the book were very funny and Mishna's story is unique.
I've not read a memoir with this point of view before. Let's face it, memoirs with crazy, alcoholic mothers are a dime a dozen. However, the book doesn't quite dig deep enough to find the pathos underneath the comedy. Although the book is written in a comic and almost breezy tone, much of Mishna's story is characterized by neglect and perhaps even abuse. She and her sister must often scrounge for food and can never count on having enough money for groceries. They are responsible for housecleaning and meal preparation.
They are forced into uncomfortable situations time and time again. And although Mishna shares this information in the book, I don't think she truly faces head-on how difficult her father made her life. I think part of the problem is that she hasn't come to terms with her father.
In fact, I felt the end of the book left things very unresolved between the two of them. I needed to know more about how things ended up between them. Although her father was a constant presence in her life, his wants and needs always seem to come first and many of his choices are just downright inappropriate and selfish. Perhaps Mishna Wolff wrote this book without having had enough time to be able to see her father through more mature eyes. She seems to skirt the pain, suffering and sadness that seem to constantly bubble below the surface of her entire childhood.
Although I'm glad she was able to find comedy in her upbringing, I feel she owes it to the reader and herself to find the truth of her family life. Some of the best memoirists I'm thinking of Mary Karr and Jeannette Walls are able to recognize and write eloquently about both the comedy and the tragedy of their lives—thereby creating a piece of writing that fully describes and embraces the human condition.
This memoir falls a bit short.
My Final Recommendation Perhaps if Mishna Wolff had waited a few more years to write this book, she would have been able to create something with a little more meaning and pathos. As it is, this is an amusing memoir, but it lacks the insight and maturity to make it something more. If you are big fan of memoirs, this book isn't a bad read; it just lacks the insight that elevate the best memoirs to works of art or true statements on what it means to be human. Apr 06, Kierstin Leah rated it did not like it Shelves: jail-reads , thanks-i-hated-it.
Mishna, girl, listen to me: your father abused you. He is a bad person and he deserves to feel bad. Fuck Mishna, girl, listen to me: your father abused you. Fuck, if these were my neighbors, I would have called myself. Surviving on tapioca? Driving a windowless van with no seats?