A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing: A Memoir Across Three Continents by Mary Alice Daniel

A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing: A Memoir Across Three Continents
by Mary Alice Daniel

A moving transcultural, transnational memoir in the vein of Enough: A Memoir of Mistakes, Mania, and Motherhood by Amelia Zachry, The White Mosque: A Memoir by Sofia Samatar, or Homebound: An Uprooted Daughter’s Reflections on Belonging by Vanessa A. Bee about a woman of mixed national heritage seeking her place in our increasingly transcultural, transethnic world.

In Daniel’s case, she moves from Nigeria on the coast of West Africa to England, and from there, to the United States. Across the span of three geographic zones, she also crosses into and between multiple cultures: Nigerian, Black-British, Black-American, coming to terms with herself as a bit of everything. Intersected between the racial and ethnic lines are the class lines and linguistic lines Daniel must also negotiate. This is a story of code-switching across multiple planes.

This is also a universal coming-of-age story about how we come to understand perceptions of ourselves from within and beyond ourselves. Who we are is not a singular explanation, but one refracted through a prism, the final view is ultimately dependent on the eye of the beholder and the position where they stand. What Daniel’s highlights in this memoir is both how dependent this view is on historical, cultural, class and geographic context.

For readers who enjoy memoirs and those which trace the processes of identity change, this is a winner.

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