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That's What She Read

The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White

The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White - Daniel J. Sharfstein The Invisible Line is a fascinating study in race relations about a topic that I personally always felt was slightly taboo. Following three different families, all with very different backgrounds and all at different moments of crossing the racial line, the reader becomes immersed in the murky details of race through one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. A history lesson in narrative form, The Invisible Line turns the idea of being black or white on its head.Mr. Sharfstein's meticulous research shines in this narrative cum nonfiction novel. He presents the Gibsons, the Walls and the Spencers in such a way that they become more than one-dimensional characters on the page and leap back into life. The addition of pictures make the stories even more personal, and the reader soon questions what it means to be white.The most surprising, and best, aspects of The Invisible Line is the crystal clear understanding of Reconstruction that is a result of each family's struggle to acclimate to life after the Civil War. Most history books tend to gloss over Reconstruction without detailing exactly what happened - how blacks gained political power and seats in state governments and in Washington, only to have it all taken away a little more than ten years after the war's end. These details added a fuller comprehension of the truly perilous times that existed during the post-Civil War era.The Invisible Line is a wonderful commentary on how messed up this country is about race. The fact that the government actually created a legal definition of what it means to be black is indicative of an overarching issue with appearances over substance. It is ironic that this country would be willing to kill over something like the color of one's skin but conveniently ignore when one family opts to cross the race line and become white. This hypocrisy is sickening and shows that we have a long way to go before race becomes a non-issue. Well-researched and extremely well-written, The Invisible Line is one step in the process, as it shares the intricate steps families had to take in order to overcome prejudice and hatred.