Review: Passin’ by Karen E. Quinones Miller
Monday March 21, 2011 at 5:18 am |

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 
Copyright: 2008
Release Date: February, 2008
Pages: 291
Form: Paperback
Author: Karen E. Quinones Miller
Buy The Book: B&N | Book Depository

Hailing from a long time color struck family, Shanika Jenkins is the family’s golden child due largely to her very fair skin and unusual blue eyes.  Descended from a long line fair skinned blacks who only marries and procreates with other fair skinned folks, Shanika ‘White Girl’ Jenkins is black and proud although her skin would suggest otherwise.  But don’t be fooled, Shanika may look like a white girl but he embraces her African roots and wouldn’t want to be anything else.

Until a job opportunity in New York arises and being black Shanika Jenkins is not to her benefit.  But while in New York interviewing for the job, Shanika is intoduced to a social and flashy life that she is determined to be a part of.  Changing her name and identity, Shanika applies for a different job with the same company as a white woman.  Telling herself that she would reveal her true ethnicity once she secured the job, Shanika becomes Nicole in order to get the job she covets.  But onc Shanika has what she once, it becomes too easy and comfortable to keep passin as white.  She builds a whole new life based on a her new identity.  But as she builds her new life she slowly destroys her old relationships with those that love her.

While chasing the proverbial American Dream, Shanika meets a Black business tycoon who she quickly falls in love with.  Will she continue to lose herself in this new world?  Or will she come clean with her new love and friends before it’s too late?


My Thoughts:

I’m surprised at this book.  I usually really like Karen E. Quinones books, but I wasn’t that impressed with this one.  Although it was a good story there are some holes in it to me.  First I love how strong her mother is in the beginning of the book. Her predjudiced mother-in-law is impressed that her daughter is light enough to be white with blue eyes, and insists she names her for her great grandmother.  The mother names her Shanika and makes it very clear that she will raise her to love herself, her heritage, and her blackness.  But after initially meeting her strong mother she seems to almost morph into this simpering, catering old lady.  In her later years she puts up with nonsense from her husband and seems very agreeable even when she shouldn’t be.  Not at all like that woman we met in the beginning.  It was disappointing to say the least.

As Shanika goes along with the facade of being a white woman, she gets deeper and deeper into her lies until she starts committing some ultimate offenses herself.  She rationalizes with herself that since she’s really black it’s okay.  She has plenty of opportunities to reveal herself but chooses to carry it too far.

Now while the story was good as a whole the ending was unsatisfactory for me.  Although she reveals WHY she decided to pass, beyond securing a job,  there just didn’t seem to be much of a resolution between her and anybody she had relationships with.  I’d like to know what she and her ‘friends’ discussed.  I’d like to know if her and her brother ever resolve their issues, and it bugs me that there is no closure or conversation with her love interest.  No explaination to and from him…nada.  If there had been definite conlusions and resolutions, I’d have rated this book higher because overall it is an interesting story.

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Written by Jade

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