Chinese Blackbird by Sherry Quan Lee

Chinese Blackbird
Sherry Quan Lee
Modern History Press (2008)
ISBN 9781932690682
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (7/08)


Honest, tender, ruthless, revealing, harsh, enlightening, and truthful are just some of the words that describe Sherry Quan Lee’s imaginative and poignant language portrayed in “Chinese Blackbird.” Born to a Black mother and a Chinese father, Quan Lee struggles with her identity, not only because of the multi-cultural orientation but because she was convinced by her mother to say she is white.

As I read Quan Lee’s writings, I couldn’t help but wonder if her identity crisis was really caused by the multi-cultural background as she portrays.  Although I will not discount the magnitude it would have had on her life, I also see much more in the writing. I see a lack of self-certainty, sexual-identity questioning, as well as role experimentation – much of what most humans experience as conflicts in their lives regardless of culture. Whether or not Quan Lee’s identity crisis was caused by a multi-cultural/color insecurity, or it was due to lack of parenting, alcoholism, drug abuse, or many of the other facets in her life, one cannot judge the experience of another person. But we do know each one of us has a choice whether or not we want to wallow in the past or choose to create a different life for ourselves and move forward.  According to Quan Lee’s words she is progressing in finding her true self and moving forward.

I commend Quan Lee for exposing her thoughts and life outside of herself.  As a poet, her language is powerful, powerful enough to entice the reader to look into his or her own life and question their own identity.  “Chinese Blackbird” will touch your soul.

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