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I'm Down: A Memoir

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I'm Down: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9780312379094
ISBN10: 0312379099
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

     Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black.  “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson.  You couldnt tell my father he was white.  Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff.  And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter down

     Unfortunately, Mishna didnt quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldnt dance, she couldnt sing, she couldnt double Dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team.  She was shy, uncool, and painfully white.  And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates.  

      Im Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

Mishna Wolff was one of the 2009 Sundance Screenwriting Lab fellows. She is a humorist and former model, who grew up in Seattle. She lives and writes in New York City.

Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson. You couldnt tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff. And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter down.

Unfortunately, Mishna didnt quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldnt dance, she couldnt sing, she couldnt double dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team. She was shy, uncool, and painfully white. And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates. Im Down is a perceptive and funny memoir that will leave readers questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

"This buoyant memoir is rich in detail but never feels over embellished . . . Im Down certainly has serious thoughts on its mind (Wolff actually grew up quite poor and hungry), but the tone manages to be light and triumphant because of the hilarious child-goggles Wolff wears while spinning her tales. Rating: A"Entertainment Weekly

"A friend gave me a copy of the book Im Down by Mishna Wolff.  I laughed out loud from the first page on . . . A keenly perceptive, hilarious exploration of identity."—Jennifer Beals, Time Magazine

"An authentically funny, truly transcendent work that makes other, sorry-voiced memoirs by a certain more privileged class of writer pale—pun intended—by comparison . . . Wolffs focus, and the sweet soul of this terrific book, was on being accepted by her streetwise, wiseass dad, whom she knew loved her—and whom she loved—unequivocally."—Elle Magazine

"As she tells you at the outset of Im Down, Mishna Wolff is all white—nothing remarkable, except that her way cool father, ‘Wolfy, thinks hes black (hes not).  What follows is a funny-melancholy coming of age memoir [in which] Mishna searches for identity in her broken home, her snobby, mostly white prep school, and—most restrictive of all—her longing heart."—O Magazine

"Laugh-out-loud funny.  And not ‘LOL like a text message, which often isnt literally accurate.  The book is excellent entertainment, and can easily be finished in one weeks worth of bus rides to work or two very long baths.  It begs to be loaned to your friends."—The Seattle Times

"Laced with outrageous anecdotes, Wolff makes keen observations about prevalent racial stereotypes in American culture . . . [and] brings a fresh perspective to race relations."—The Daily Beast (Recommended Read)

"Wolff is a natural storyteller and very funny, which makes reading about some of the more upsetting events palatable.  And instead of collapsing into stereotypes, Wolff portrays the characters in her life as fully dimensional people, who, in their wildly different ways, were doing their best to fit in."—Bust

"By turns funny and unsettling in its frank observations about race."—Good Housekeeping

"Both hilarious and heart-wrenching."—Ladies Home Journal

"If youre going to spin a tale about your impoverished, racially conflicted childhood, you might as well be funny about it . . . [And] Im Down is full of funny incidents . . . But Wolffs affection for her family and friends—and for the prickly, clueless honky girl she once was—makes Im Down more than just a joke."—Salon.com

"You will not be able to stop reading Im Down once you have read the first page."—The Indie Next List

"Im Down works on many levels, and thats mostly because Wolff is honest, sparing no expense in chronicling all the things at which she sucked.  More than an awkward childhood memoir full of cultural faux pas and bust-your-gut-laughing moments, Im Down is really a touching tribute to the authors father, John Wolff, an afro-centric white guy . . . Its when this punchy memoir unravels itself to an emotional core that it reveals the ultimate lesson—that being different isnt so bad.  And by the end of this promising debut, Wolff comes out looking like roses."Venus Zine

"Frequently hilarious, occasionally terrifying, and ultimately bittersweet . . . Wolff writes fluidly and offers moments of great insight through story rather than through explanation, making it easy for readers to engage with the child's questions and growing frustrations. An excellent choice for discussion in ethnic identity curricula, but absorbing reading, too."—School Library Journal

"Mishna Wolff was a white girl who grew up in a poor black neighborhood [while attending a rich school filled with privileged white classmates]. This funny, engaging, and perceptive memoir tells the story of how she managed to negotiate these two very different worlds, and emerge with her sanity—and identity—intact."—Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher

"Hilarious and sometimes tragic, Mishna Wolff's book is the expertly woven tale of a girl caught between two lives, two races, and two classes."—Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like

"Told from the truly unique vantage point of a white girl in a black world, here is a really, really funny book about the slings and arrows of growing up, of being a kid, of figuring out where you belong, of figuring IT out. The royal IT. Mishna's writing is fast, hip, edgy and so funny and just when you think you've got her figured out, you don't."—Michael Showalter, comedian and actor (The State and Wet Hot American Summer)

"And you thought you had a hard time fitting in when you were growing up? Try on Mishna Wolff's bizarre childhood for size. The memoir of a honky white girl searching for belonging an urban black neighborhood, Im Down explodes racial and cultural stereotypes with self-deprecating wit, wry humor and keen observation."—Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

"Immensely enjoyable, the hilarious, heartbreaking story of the honkiest honkey in the hood."—Sara Thyer, author of Dark at the Roots

"In a parallel universe—one, say, where Richard Pryor could be merged with Mark Twain and re- born with two x-chromosomes—the result would probably be Mishna Wolff. And her memoir, I have no doubt, would be as beautiful, funny, touching and irresistible as  I'm Down. Wolff's real-life story is so unique—a little white girl coming of age with a family who just never considered her black enough—her eye for detail and character so nuanced, this stands out as the rare autobiography that could just easily pass for brilliant social satire."—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

"A wonderful memoir about identity, family, and learning to adapt. Maybe Mishna Wolff never developed the sense of rhythm her dad hoped she'd have, but she gained a terrific sense of humor. I'm Down is hilarious, bittersweet, and full of soul (in every sense of the word)."—Wendy McClure, author of Im Not The New Me

"Deftly and hilariously delineates the American drama of race and class for one little girl."—Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. This hip, funny memoir will have readers questioning what it means to be black or white in America.

Synopsis:

     Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black.  “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson.  You couldnt tell my father he was white.  Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff.  And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter down

     Unfortunately, Mishna didnt quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldnt dance, she couldnt sing, she couldnt double Dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team.  She was shy, uncool, and painfully white.  And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates.  

      Im Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

“This buoyant memoir is rich in detail but never feels over embellished…Im Down certainly has serious thoughts on its mind (Wolff actually grew up quite poor and hungry), but the tone manages to be light and triumphant because of the hilarious child-goggles Wolff wears while spinning her tales. Rating: A”  --Entertainment Weekly

"A friend gave me a copy of the book Im Down by Mishna Wolff.  I laughed out loud from the first page on…A keenly perceptive, hilarious exploration of identity."  --Jennifer Beals, Time Magazine

"An authentically funny, truly transcendent work that makes other, sorry-voiced memoirs by a certain more privileged class of writer pale—pun intended—by comparison…Wolffs focus, and the sweet soul of this terrific book, was on being accepted by her streetwise, wiseass dad, whom she knew loved her—and whom she loved—unequivocally.—Elle Magazine

“As she tells you at the outset of Im Down, Mishna Wolff is all white—nothing remarkable, except that her way cool father, ‘Wolfy, thinks hes black (hes not).  What follows is a funny-melancholy coming of age memoir [in which] Mishna searches for identity in her broken home, her snobby, mostly white prep school, and—most restrictive of all—her longing heart.” –O Magazine

"Deftly and hilariously delineates the American drama of race and class for one little girl." --Kirkus Reviews

"Laugh-out-loud funny.  And not ‘LOL like a text message, which often isnt literally accurate.  The book is excellent entertainment, and can easily be finished in one weeks worth of bus rides to work or two very long baths.  It begs to be loaned to your friends.” –The Seattle Times. 

“Laced with outrageous anecdotes, Wolff makes keen observations about prevalent racial stereotypes in American culture…[and] brings a fresh perspective to race relations” –The Daily Beast (Recommended Read)

“Wolff is a natural storyteller and very funny, which makes reading about some of the more upsetting events palatable.  And instead of collapsing into stereotypes, Wolff portrays the characters in her life as fully dimensional people, who, in their wildly different ways, were doing their best to fit in.” –Bust

“By turns funny and unsettling in its frank observations about race.” –Good Housekeeping

“Both hilarious and heart-wrenching.” –Ladies Home Journal

“Wolff transforms her sitcom-ready upbringing into a tightly focused, perceptive, and very funny memoir.  She address race in the process, of course, but at its core, Im Down is about a daughter trying to impress her eccentric father and capture his attention and love once and for all.” –Penthouse

“If youre going to spin a tale about your impoverished, racially conflicted childhood, you might as well be funny about it…[And] Im Down is full of funny incidents…But Wolffs affection for her family and friends — and for the prickly, clueless honky girl she once was — makes Im Down more than just a joke.” –Salon.com

“You will not be able to stop reading Im Down once you have read the first page.” –The Indie Next List

Im Down works on many levels, and thats mostly because Wolff is honest, sparing no expense in chronicling all the things at which she sucked.  More than an awkward childhood memoir full of cultural faux pas and bust-your-gut-laughing moments, Im Down is really a touching tribute to the authors father, John Wolff, an afro-centric white guy…Its when this punchy memoir unravels itself to an emotional core that it reveals the ultimate lesson—that being different isnt so bad.  And by the end of this promising debut, Wolff comes out looking like roses.”  --Venus Zine

“Frequently hilarious, occasionally terrifying, and ultimately bittersweet …Wolff writes fluidly and offers moments of great insight through story rather than through explanation, making it easy for readers to engage with the child's questions and growing frustrations. An excellent choice for discussion in ethnic identity curricula, but absorbing reading, too.”  –School Library Journal

"Mishna Wolff was a white girl who grew up in a poor black neighborhood [while attending a rich school filled with privileged white classmates]. This funny, engaging, and perceptive memoir tells the story of how she managed to negotiate these two very different worlds, and emerge with her sanity--and identity--intact." –Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher

“Hilarious and sometimes tragic, Mishna Wolff's book is the expertly woven tale of a girl caught between two lives, two races, and two classes. “ –Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like

“Told from the truly unique vantage point of a white girl in a black world, here is a really, really funny book about the slings and arrows of growing up, of being a kid, of figuring out where you belong, of figuring IT out. The royal IT. Mishna's writing is fast, hip, edgy and so funny and just when you think you've got her figured out, you don't.” –Michael Showalter, comedian and actor (The State and Wet Hot American Summer)

“And you thought you had a hard time fitting in when you were growing up? Try on Mishna Wolff's bizarre childhood for size. The memoir of a honky white girl searching for belonging an urban black neighborhood, Im Down explodes racial and cultural stereotypes with self-deprecating wit, wry humor and keen observation.” –Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

“Immensely enjoyable, the hilarious, heartbreaking story of the honkiest honkey in the hood."  --Sara Thyer, author of Dark at the Roots

“In a parallel universe - one, say, where Richard Pryor could be merged with Mark Twain and re- born with two x-chromosomes -  the result would probably be Mishna Wolff. And her memoir, I have no doubt, would be as beautiful, funny, touching and irresistible as  I'm Down.  Wolff's  real-life story is so unique - a little white girl coming of age with a family who just never considered her black enough - her eye for detail and character so nuanced, this stands out as the rare autobiography that could just easily pass for brilliant social satire. “ --Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“A wonderful memoir about identity, family, and learning to adapt. Maybe Mishna Wolff never developed the sense of rhythm her dad hoped she'd have, but she gained a terrific sense of humor. I'm Down is hilarious, bittersweet, and full of soul (in every sense of the word).” –Wendy McClure, author of Im Not The New Me

 

 

Synopsis:

     Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black.  “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson.  You couldnt tell my father he was white.  Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff.  And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter down

     Unfortunately, Mishna didnt quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldnt dance, she couldnt sing, she couldnt double Dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team.  She was shy, uncool, and painfully white.  And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates.  

      Im Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

About the Author

Mishna Wolff was one of the 2009 Sundance Screenwriting Lab fellows. She is a humorist and former model, who grew up in Seattle. She lives and writes in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

namarome, September 27, 2012 (view all comments by namarome)
This felt way too awkward throughout. It felt too confessional, too critical, too funny, too...everything. Though she tried to include enough background to have all of the characters be sympathetic characters, I ended up angry at too many of them.
Some of the anecdotes would have made good short stories on their own, but tied together through 7-ish (or more, depending on how you look at it) years of her life, they left more questions than insight. The chapter called "Cappin" (or something similar) worked very well--I think her ideas would work better as a Sedaris-like collection of stories.
It must be difficult to straddle cultures and have parents with the quirks of hers, but she needed a stricter editor to help her turn this into a cohesive memoir.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312379094
Author:
Wolff, Mishna
Publisher:
Griffin
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Topic - Family
Subject:
Topic - Marriage & Family
Subject:
Comedians -- United States.
Subject:
Models (Persons) -- United States.
Subject:
Topic/Marriage
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Family Relationships
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
cultural heritage
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20100631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes BandW photographs throughout
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.28 x 5.43 x 0.795 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Family
Biography » General
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Horror » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs
History and Social Science » Sociology » American Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

I'm Down: A Memoir Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages St. Martin's Griffin - English 9780312379094 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. This hip, funny memoir will have readers questioning what it means to be black or white in America.
"Synopsis" by ,

     Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black.  “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson.  You couldnt tell my father he was white.  Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff.  And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter down

     Unfortunately, Mishna didnt quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldnt dance, she couldnt sing, she couldnt double Dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team.  She was shy, uncool, and painfully white.  And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates.  

      Im Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

“This buoyant memoir is rich in detail but never feels over embellished…Im Down certainly has serious thoughts on its mind (Wolff actually grew up quite poor and hungry), but the tone manages to be light and triumphant because of the hilarious child-goggles Wolff wears while spinning her tales. Rating: A”  --Entertainment Weekly

"A friend gave me a copy of the book Im Down by Mishna Wolff.  I laughed out loud from the first page on…A keenly perceptive, hilarious exploration of identity."  --Jennifer Beals, Time Magazine

"An authentically funny, truly transcendent work that makes other, sorry-voiced memoirs by a certain more privileged class of writer pale—pun intended—by comparison…Wolffs focus, and the sweet soul of this terrific book, was on being accepted by her streetwise, wiseass dad, whom she knew loved her—and whom she loved—unequivocally.—Elle Magazine

“As she tells you at the outset of Im Down, Mishna Wolff is all white—nothing remarkable, except that her way cool father, ‘Wolfy, thinks hes black (hes not).  What follows is a funny-melancholy coming of age memoir [in which] Mishna searches for identity in her broken home, her snobby, mostly white prep school, and—most restrictive of all—her longing heart.” –O Magazine

"Deftly and hilariously delineates the American drama of race and class for one little girl." --Kirkus Reviews

"Laugh-out-loud funny.  And not ‘LOL like a text message, which often isnt literally accurate.  The book is excellent entertainment, and can easily be finished in one weeks worth of bus rides to work or two very long baths.  It begs to be loaned to your friends.” –The Seattle Times. 

“Laced with outrageous anecdotes, Wolff makes keen observations about prevalent racial stereotypes in American culture…[and] brings a fresh perspective to race relations” –The Daily Beast (Recommended Read)

“Wolff is a natural storyteller and very funny, which makes reading about some of the more upsetting events palatable.  And instead of collapsing into stereotypes, Wolff portrays the characters in her life as fully dimensional people, who, in their wildly different ways, were doing their best to fit in.” –Bust

“By turns funny and unsettling in its frank observations about race.” –Good Housekeeping

“Both hilarious and heart-wrenching.” –Ladies Home Journal

“Wolff transforms her sitcom-ready upbringing into a tightly focused, perceptive, and very funny memoir.  She address race in the process, of course, but at its core, Im Down is about a daughter trying to impress her eccentric father and capture his attention and love once and for all.” –Penthouse

“If youre going to spin a tale about your impoverished, racially conflicted childhood, you might as well be funny about it…[And] Im Down is full of funny incidents…But Wolffs affection for her family and friends — and for the prickly, clueless honky girl she once was — makes Im Down more than just a joke.” –Salon.com

“You will not be able to stop reading Im Down once you have read the first page.” –The Indie Next List

Im Down works on many levels, and thats mostly because Wolff is honest, sparing no expense in chronicling all the things at which she sucked.  More than an awkward childhood memoir full of cultural faux pas and bust-your-gut-laughing moments, Im Down is really a touching tribute to the authors father, John Wolff, an afro-centric white guy…Its when this punchy memoir unravels itself to an emotional core that it reveals the ultimate lesson—that being different isnt so bad.  And by the end of this promising debut, Wolff comes out looking like roses.”  --Venus Zine

“Frequently hilarious, occasionally terrifying, and ultimately bittersweet …Wolff writes fluidly and offers moments of great insight through story rather than through explanation, making it easy for readers to engage with the child's questions and growing frustrations. An excellent choice for discussion in ethnic identity curricula, but absorbing reading, too.”  –School Library Journal

"Mishna Wolff was a white girl who grew up in a poor black neighborhood [while attending a rich school filled with privileged white classmates]. This funny, engaging, and perceptive memoir tells the story of how she managed to negotiate these two very different worlds, and emerge with her sanity--and identity--intact." –Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher

“Hilarious and sometimes tragic, Mishna Wolff's book is the expertly woven tale of a girl caught between two lives, two races, and two classes. “ –Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like

“Told from the truly unique vantage point of a white girl in a black world, here is a really, really funny book about the slings and arrows of growing up, of being a kid, of figuring out where you belong, of figuring IT out. The royal IT. Mishna's writing is fast, hip, edgy and so funny and just when you think you've got her figured out, you don't.” –Michael Showalter, comedian and actor (The State and Wet Hot American Summer)

“And you thought you had a hard time fitting in when you were growing up? Try on Mishna Wolff's bizarre childhood for size. The memoir of a honky white girl searching for belonging an urban black neighborhood, Im Down explodes racial and cultural stereotypes with self-deprecating wit, wry humor and keen observation.” –Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

“Immensely enjoyable, the hilarious, heartbreaking story of the honkiest honkey in the hood."  --Sara Thyer, author of Dark at the Roots

“In a parallel universe - one, say, where Richard Pryor could be merged with Mark Twain and re- born with two x-chromosomes -  the result would probably be Mishna Wolff. And her memoir, I have no doubt, would be as beautiful, funny, touching and irresistible as  I'm Down.  Wolff's  real-life story is so unique - a little white girl coming of age with a family who just never considered her black enough - her eye for detail and character so nuanced, this stands out as the rare autobiography that could just easily pass for brilliant social satire. “ --Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“A wonderful memoir about identity, family, and learning to adapt. Maybe Mishna Wolff never developed the sense of rhythm her dad hoped she'd have, but she gained a terrific sense of humor. I'm Down is hilarious, bittersweet, and full of soul (in every sense of the word).” –Wendy McClure, author of Im Not The New Me

 

 

"Synopsis" by ,

     Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black.  “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson.  You couldnt tell my father he was white.  Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff.  And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter down

     Unfortunately, Mishna didnt quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldnt dance, she couldnt sing, she couldnt double Dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team.  She was shy, uncool, and painfully white.  And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates.  

      Im Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.

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