Black or White

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe51o3tkgzznl._sy400_.jpg is an interesting novel based on the life of Anita Hemmings, the first African-American woman to graduate from Vassar College in 1897.

When the beautiful, light-skinned Hemmings enrolled in Vassar, she kept secret the fact that she was of Negro descent. Passing as a white was not an easy task, but Hemmings found a way to fit in, all the while knowing she would be expelled if her secret became known.

The story is told in the third-person, which in a way, kept me from feeling deeply connected to Miss  Hemmings. As this is a work of historical fiction, it could not have been easy to imagine Hemmings’ innermost thoughts. I do think however, given the times and what was at stake, Hemmings might have experienced greater dread of being found-out and most certainly, a profound sense of not fitting-in with the elite women who would have attended Vassar at that time.

I did enjoy the story, especially knowing it’s based on an extraordinary woman who, against all odds, accomplished her goal. She is someone to be admired.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I think you will like this book.

About dianeledet

Professional Writing Consultant, Graduate of DePaul University School for New Learning 2008
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