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Paperback Passing Book

ISBN: 0142437271

ISBN13: 9780142437278


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Format: Paperback

Condition: Good

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Book Overview


Nella Larsen's powerful, thrilling, and tragic tale about the fluidity of racial identity that continues to resonate today. A New York Times Editors' Choice. Now a major motion picture starring Tessa Thompson and Alexander Skarsg rd

One of The Atlantic's Great American Novels of the Past 100 Years

Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Incredible read

uh wow that ending got me good. This is less than 100 pages so I don't have a ton to say. The characters felt real. I learned a lot about society and the people that could "pass for white" in the 1920s. So if you're curious about that, read this book. It is like 50% internal thought, and 50% external things (dialogue, actions, etc.). So it is more character development heavy than plot heavy. And if you aren't okay with hearing a lot about a character's thoughts this might not be for you. Very interesting read, and I'll probably read it again in the future to just absorb it better!


Does skin color still matter? Welcome to a world, not too long ago, when it did matter. To get out of the hot sun one day, a fair skinned black woman walks into an upscale cafe and orders a coffee, forgetting to mention that she is black and this is the 1920s in America. Civil Rights are still forty years away, and all cafes, like everything else in the country, are segregated; blacks go here, whites go there. She has crossed the color line, but is so fair that no one even notices. Then she hears her name being called. It is someone from her past, her black past, someone who knows her true ethnicity. Someone who is also passing. But where the protagonist is only passing to get out of the sun for a few minutes, she discovers that her old friend whom she hasn't seen in years now LIVES her entire life as white and has in fact married a white man, who does not know her true ethnicity. Wow. This book raises many interesting questions as it explores black pride and the true nature of race relations in America. A must read.

Passing is a Must-Read

Nella Larsen's Passing is a beautifully written, touching novel--a masterpiece of 1920's American literature. In the context of a highly race-conscious 1920's urban society, its storyline and characters' lives and times are fascinating, and there isn't a person of any race or gender who couldn't relate to at least some of the challenges faced by Irene, Clare, and Brian. A quick-read, much enhanced by the informative, historically thorough introduction, Passing had numerous moments marked by strong visual images and thoughtful, emotional prose. Throughout the book, I was amazed at Larsen's ability to put into words exactly what I was feeling, had felt, or would feel, through the thoughts and words of Irene. I felt like I could step into the story and feel at home, and I wanted the story to keep going and going...I enjoyed every second of it.

Should be on every American's "Must Read" list

PASSING by Nella Larsen is astonishing on many levels. As a piece of imaginative writing, it succeeds as an assured, honest performance. Though its spine is comprised of ideas, it is vividly fleshed out in complex characters, nicely evoked settings and natural dialogue. At first its narrative style struck me as 19th century in style, but as I read I became more and more impressed with how well the descriptive passages used modern psychology. It is very sophisticated, offering a rare level of insight. As a record of the American experience, it is equally fine, throwing open the doors on the Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century and race relations of that era. I have a better understanding of the past and present of the African American experience and the implications of the act of passing for having read it. It deserves to be enjoyed as a good novel with wonderful characters. It deserves to be read as a living work of art and testimony, not as a historical curiosity. It should be on every American's syllabus.

Eloquent and complex

Do we all "pass" at some time in our lives? Perhaps not so intentionally as Clare, who chooses to renounce her blackness for the freedom of the white world. Irene, who passes only on occasion, struggles with maintaing appearances and control. The telling of this tale is compelling -- the beauty of the language and style are rare nowadays. Too bad the story ends where it does. There are still questions to be answered.

Passing Mentions in Our Blog

Passing in Watched it? Now Read It!
Watched it? Now Read It!
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 14, 2023

Sometimes, the best literature gets delivered to our television screen before we've had the chance to read it. But even if you've already watched, it's never too late to read. Here are the books behind 26 of the best adaptations on Netflix right now.

Passing in Back to the Theater!
Back to the Theater!
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 07, 2021

The pandemic put many exciting film releases on hold, but movies are back, baby! And, in keeping with our key interests, we've put together a list of upcoming book-to-screen adaptations that we can't wait to see. (But only after we read, of course.)

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