WHAT MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME
African-Americans "passing" as white have been part of our culture for centuries, and this telling breaks no new ground on the topic, as three generations of a particular family deal with this difficult subject. Interesting secondary characters make the story
Cora leaves Rudell, Miss., for Chicago to follow her dream of becoming a singer. While working for a prominent white family, she is raped by the son and runs back home -- not realizing that she carries his child. Upon her return, she marries, and when her child is born Caucasian, the lies begin to unfold.
The child, Emma, grows up and heads to New York. By now she is passing for white and marries a soldier who is then shipped off to war. Emma finds herself alone and pregnant with a child who is born with the features of her African-American ancestors. To hide the truth, she sends her daughter Parris back to her mother to be raised and eventually moves to Europe. Now it's Parris' turn to face her heritage. She eventually tracks down her birth mother and finds the family that she never knew. (KIMANI/ARABESQUE, Mar., 298 pp., $14.95)