It’s not very common to find books with a biracial theme; often publishers shy away, thinking the racial aspect is too “in your face.” With A Beautiful Mess [Pubslush Press], author Ali Berlinski gives a voice to biculturalism, showing it’s okay to talk about race. In A Beautiful Mess, she expertly weaves in her Polish Filipino identity into this memoir in an honest, humorous and balanced way.
Biracial readers, whether Asian and White or some other combination, will be able to relate to Berlinski. She states early in her memoir: “Deciding my race wouldn't be an issue if it didn't involve a hierarchy. In terms of privilege, there is nothing higher or even equal to being white. You'd think being half-white would give me some advantage over those who are fully ethnic, but it doesn't seem to work that way. In actuality, it reasserts my non-whiteness. Whereas the ‘one-drop rule’ automatically qualifies you as black, having one drop of minority disqualifies you from being white. It's not that I want to be white; I just find the criteria amusing. The Polish aren't exactly known as the master race. We make great pierogies and kielbasa, but mostly I'd say the Polish are just another poor working class. All the same, it's a club I can't be a member of, nor do I want to. There's something gratifying about being biracial and a minority."
The book also delves into complicated and dysfunctional family relationships. Berlinski is a child of divorce who grew up between two coasts. She never felt rooted while shuffling from one parent to the other. Family members included an emotionally and physically absent mom, a gay deaf brother, and an ex-nanny step mother, to name a few.
Berlinski also takes us into her romantic relationships, where readers will nod their heads in familiarity about hanging on to someone too long, or realizing that the person you loved has changed. Through it all, she looks back with humor and insight and then stoically moves forward.
Berlinski’s voice is that of a best friend, confiding her secrets while making you laugh. Through her own experiences, she helps you accept the messes in your own life with humor. Though with all the names mentioned the reader may sometimes forget who’s who, overall A Beautiful Mess is a book that readers, whether biracial or not, will enjoy.
'A Beautiful Mess,' released May 2013, is the first book ever to be published by a crowdfunding platform (the reader's decide). For every book purchased, a book will be donated to a child in need as part of an initiative to help combat illiteracy. Purchase a copy at Amazon.com.
Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of 'A Beautiful Mess' for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.