Invisible Boy Review

Invisible Boy, shortlisted for a non-fiction Governor General Award this past year, caught my attention not because of the race issues … but because of the religious ones. Both share the limelight in this memoir.

I’m not black and won’t try to identify with Harrrison Mooney's race struggles, a black kid growing up with white parents in BC's Bible belt.  But, having been raised in a semi-fundamentalist environment (my father kept a healthy distance from the evangelicals), I was drawn to the Christian hypocrisy of Mooney’s growing-up years ... complicated by his insecurities of being an adopted child.

Mooney could never be sure of his acceptance into his adopted family’s faith community—a community where speaking in tongues was a sign of God’s grace. He could also never be sure of his white mother’s love.  Mooney could never be sure if being himself was enough. And so he, the adopted boy, had to adopt a false persona.

It was heartbreaking to read: “Mothers teach love and survival … But mine taught me how to survive without love.” (page 268).  

People who haven’t been exposed to Christian fundamentalism might not appreciate its power to exploit a child’s vulnerabilities.  A challenging, disturbing, but ultimately, uplifting and empowering book.  I hope Mooney's Christian white mother will read this and see him.

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