Book Review of “The Sweeter The Juice” by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip The book “The Sweeter The Juice” is part autobiography and part family narrative of Shirlee Taylor Haizlip and her extended family. Her family narrative is composed of stories about the lineage of her mother and father; these stories were a product of extensive research into historical documents and accounts of relatives passed down from generation to generations. Haizlip intertwines her family stories with historical figures and events allowing for the audience to be able to relate certain characters to the timeline of the history of the United States. As well, she provides personal accounts of her experiences while researching for her family’s past: where she traveled, under which circumstances she found information, how she felt and what she imagined. All of these elements come together to create a tale of black and white.
The concept of “opposites” is found very frequently throughout the book and the theme of “black and white” that goes along with this concept is very strongly highlighted by the author. On one hand of the spectrum we find Shirlee’s mother, a child of a family that has been reaching and struggling to obtain the white side of life. This struggle begins generations upon generations before the birth of Shirlee or her mother. This beginning to this struggle can be pinpointed to the union of an offspring of a black slave and her master and an abandoned Irish girl. These were Shirlee’s grandparents from generations back and their children were the first to experience both the hardships of being black and the opportunities that lay in being white. These children grew up and all but one either died or assumed the identity of one who was technically a different race. They had lived in their youth fighting for a chance to survive as black and found that there was no road to success aside from utilizing their light skin as the escape from the inequality and unfairness of a racially...
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