Born Bright, C. Nicole Mason's powerful memoir, is a story of reconciliation, constrained choices, and life on the other side of the tracks. Born in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, Mason was raised by a beautiful but volatile 16-year-old single mother. Early on, she learned to navigate between an unpredictable home life and school, where she excelled. By high school, Mason was seamlessly straddling two worlds. The first, a cocoon of familiarity where street smarts, toughness, and the ability to survive won the day. The other, foreign and unfamiliar with its own set of rules, not designed for her success. In her Advanced Placement classes and outside of her neighborhood, she felt unwelcomed and judged because of the way she talked, dressed, and wore her hair. After moving to Las Vegas to live with her paternal grandmother, she worked nights at a food court in one of the mega casinos while finishing school. Mason would eventually board a plane for Howard University, alone and with $200 in her pocket.
©2016 C. Nicole Mason (P)2016 Tantor
"This firsthand account of a passage out of poverty will inspire readers interested in the strength of the human spirit in overcoming formidable obstacles." (Library Journal)
This book - like many I have read before - is the story of one person growing up in poverty and getting out. Unlike many other books, this author and main character is female.
I enjoyed the look at Nicole's life growing up, how her schooling both prepared her and didn't for college, how her family both supported her and didn't.
Nicole has a unique insight into the realities of poverty, without judgment or hero-worship. I only wish more had been made of her transition to college - more than just after moving into the dorms.
Robin Eller wouldn't have been my first choice as narrator. She is adequate - though sometimes stilted - with narrative passages, but is not at all gifted with dialogue. If characters speak "angrily" or "loudly", she reads it in the same tone she would read the description of the neighborhood. Overall, this wasn't a huge issue, but it is something to keep in consideration.
Overall, this book is well worth your time and credit.
I can't wait to share Born Bright with a group of students who are repeat sophomores, attending a majority minority school, living in poverty, and being raised by single parents. I often question, as their Assistant Principal, am I making a difference. Your story confirms I am! I want to give them inspiration to stay the course and find their way!
a powerful life story of importance for many with important conclusions for all
her personal story resonates with many, including me, as I have a similar background.
her focus is on policy as the main culprit responsible for the disparate conditions of the poor. I agree it was and still is a huge factor. growing up in the time frame Dr.Mason talks about, we had no real understanding and knowledge of what was going on and no real power to make changes. today however, there is understanding and knowledge available for all through the Internet, books, etc... yet the people who need it most are unable to get and use the information they desperately need to help them move forward.
she gives great necessary policy strategies in the end and I support them...
I do however wonder what to do about the terrible familial relationships that are also a huge contributor to disparate conditions and cause poor outcomes to the point that only one family member makes it out from several generations...
I think we have to burn the candle from both ends...the societal end and then more personally the immediate family end. intergenerational transmission of issues has that crabs in a barrel effect on families and it kills the spirit of youngsters.
my only criticism is that I had to get use to the narrator. I felt like she enunciated too perfectly. I envisioned her as a very prim and proper person telling the story of a poor person and for this story (until the last two chapters) I personally would have preferred a slightly less formal narrator.
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