Synopses & Reviews
In this poignant memoir and follow-up to Cross' Emmy Award-winning documentary, she deftly portrays the strains of a complicated family structure, ruptured by race, secrecy, and human fallibility.
"Using her 1997 Emmy Award winning documentary, Secret Daughter, as inspiration for her memoir of the same name, Cross, a TV producer and journalism professor at Columbia University, narrates her life as the daughter of a white woman and a well-known black vaudevillian (Jimmy Cross) who was handed over to a black couple for rearing. Several elements fight for the center of this memoir: the emotional roller coaster of life spent between her bourgeois adoptive black family in Atlantic City and her Hollywood show business biological mother (who usually introduced her daughter as a niece or having been adopted); her undergraduate difficulties at the Harvard Crimson, 'a club of smart-assed white boys and prefeminist women, more butch than liberated'; and life in the '60s ('It was the season of Angela Davis's trial, so prisons were hip'). She also weaves in gossipy show business tales that follow the career trajectory of F Troop actor Larry Storch as well as some settling of scores (Jerry Lewis borrowed from her father's act 'Stump and Stumpy' but didn't send flowers to his funeral). Unfortunately, the bits and pieces fail to cohere, and her narrative often falls flat ('I rose from the piano stool and crossed the room') in what is otherwise an intriguing story." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This powerful memoir is a deftly drawn portrait of the ultimately loving relationship between a black girl and the white mother who gave her away.