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Publisher's Summary

An acclaimed journalist travels the globe to solve the mystery of her ancestry, confronting the question at the heart of the American experience of immigration, race, and identity: Who are my people?

"A thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are...and the values and ideals that bind us together as Americans." (Barack Obama)

"A rich and revealing memoir... Futureface raises urgent questions having to do with history and complicity." (The New York Times)

The daughter of a Burmese mother and a white American father, Alex Wagner grew up thinking of herself as a "futureface" - an avatar of a mixed-race future when all races would merge into a brown singularity. But when one family mystery leads to another, Wagner's postracial ideals fray as she becomes obsessed with the specifics of her own family's racial and ethnic history. Drawn into the wild world of ancestry, she embarks upon a quest around the world - and into her own DNA - to answer the ultimate questions of who she really is and where she belongs. 

The journey takes her from Burma to Luxembourg, from ruined colonial capitals with records written on banana leaves to Mormon databases, genetic labs, and the rest of the 21st-century genealogy complex. But soon she begins to grapple with a deeper question: Does it matter? Is our enduring obsession with blood and land, race and identity, worth all the trouble it's caused us? 

Wagner weaves together fascinating history, genetic science, and sociology but is really after deeper stuff than her own ancestry: In a time of conflict over who we are as a country, she tries to find the story where we all belong. 

Praise for Futureface:

"Smart, searching... Meditating on our ancestors, as Wagner's own story shows, can suggest better ways of being ourselves." (Maud Newton, The New York Times Book Review)

"Sincere and instructive... This timely reflection on American identity, with a bonus expose of DNA ancestry testing, deserves a wide audience." (Library Journal)

"The narrative is part Mary Roach-style participation-heavy research, part family history, and part exploration of existential loneliness.... The journey is worth taking." (Kirkus Reviews)

©2018 Alex Wagner (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

Futureface is an important contribution to the American conversation - Alex Wagner’s story is insightful, moving, informative, and searing. I have deeply admired Alex for a long time as an original thinker, a keenly observant journalist, and a funny, empathetic human being. Read this book and you’ll understand why.” (Wes Moore, best-selling author of The Other Wes Moore)

What members say

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fun story

I thoroughly enjoyed this book she's very funny and I could relate to all of the twist turns and miss- steps tracing my own family history. however I will say I didn't always agree with her assessments and conclusions. I found my own 23and Me DNA testing quite satisfying it even busted a family myth regarding a certain great-great grandmother's being half-indian.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Drags on repetitively

This book was a boring read. I learned a little about Burma, Luxenburg and Ancestry.com, 23and me, but that was it...The author makes the same points over and over...

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Very interesting,personal and informative

Alex reading is expressive a great to listen to. She has an engaging kind of eloquence to her writing, using an elevated term in a sentence that uses street vernacular. For me it made listening fun and never dry. She give a great summary of the strengths (few) and shortcomings (many) of the genetic testing enterprise so popular today. I had a suspicion but hadn’t taken the time to look into it. I wish I could extract the written text to show to my top enthusiastic family members. Usually when any human construct is too simple, something is wrong and it’s always more complicated.