Book Review: When I Was White by Sarah Valentine @StMartinsPress #WhenIWasWhite #bookblog #bookblogger #bookreview #bookreviewer #booksonthebookshelf


PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press

PUBLICATION DATE: August 6th, 2019


Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a paperback ARC of this book to read and share my review with others.



The stunning and provocative coming-of-age memoir about Sarah Valentine’s childhood as a white girl in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, and her discovery that her father was a black man.

At the age of 27, Sarah Valentine discovered that she was not, in fact, the white girl she had always believed herself to be. She learned the truth of her paternity: that her father was a black man. And she learned the truth about her own identity: mixed race.

And so Sarah began the difficult and absorbing journey of changing her identity from white to black. In this memoir, Sarah details the story of the discovery of her identity, how she overcame depression to come to terms with this identity, and, perhaps most importantly, asks: why? Her entire family and community had conspired to maintain her white identity. The supreme discomfort her white family and community felt about addressing issues of race—her race—is a microcosm of race relationships in America.

A black woman who lived her formative years identifying as white, Sarah’s story is a kind of Rachel Dolezal in reverse, though her “passing” was less intentional than conspiracy. This memoir is an examination of the cost of being black in America, and how one woman threw off the racial identity she’d grown up with, in order to embrace a new one.



This novel was a compelling story that was interesting to read about the experiences of young Sarah Valentine as she grew into a woman and discovered her identity. Through all the trials and tribulations, and in the face of adversity, this novel grabs the readers attention as you flip the pages and learn more about the many obstacles and feelings  Sarah herself went through on this incredible journey of self-discovery.

Imagine growing up thinking you were white and finding out your father was a black man. That you in face were not white, but mixed race. Would you do everything you could to find out about your true parentage, which race would you identify with?

I enjoyed reading this memoir from beginning to end, and I am sure you will too.


MY RATING: 4/5 stars

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