HighBridge Audio

Skip to Main Content »

Category Navigation:

Search Site

How I Shed My Skin

Nonfiction: Biography
Unabridged   7 hour(s)
Publication date: 04/14/2015

How I Shed My Skin

Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood.

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781622315727
Digital Download ISBN:9781622315734


White people declared that the south would rise again. Black people raised a fist and chanted for black power. Somehow we negotiated a space between those poles and learned to sit in classrooms together. Lawyers, judges, adults declared that the days of separate schools were over, but we were the ones who took the next step. History gave us a piece of itself. We made of it what we could. -Jim Grimsley

Be the first to review this product
Email to a Friend

Product Description

In August of 1966, Jim Grimsley entered the sixth grade in the same public school he had attended for the five previous years, in his small eastern North Carolina hometown. But he knew that the first day of this school year was going to be different: for the first time he'd be in a classroom with black children. That was the year federally mandated integration of the schools went into effect, at first allowing students to change schools through freedom of choice, replaced two years later by forced integration.

For Jim, going to one of the private schools that almost immediately sprang up was not an option: his family was too poor to consider paying tuition, and while they shared the community's dismay over the mixing of the races, they had bigger, more immediate problems to contend with.

Now, over forty years later, Grimsley, a critically acclaimed novelist, revisits that school and those times, remembering his own personal reaction to his first real exposure to black children and to their culture, and to his growing awareness of his own mostly unrecognized racist attitudes. Good White People is both true and deeply moving, an important work that takes readers inside those classrooms and onto the playing fields as, ever so tentatively, alliances were forged and friendships established.


“A powerful meditation on race.” —Natasha Trethewey, US Poet Laureate

“Looking back some 40 years later, acclaimed writer Grimsley offers a beautifully written coming-of-age recollection from the era of racial desegregation.” —Booklist, starred review

“In this sensitive memoir, Grimsley probes the past to discover what and how he learned about race, equality and democracy ‘from the good white people’ in his family and community.” —Kirkus Reviews

“We want a new world. We long for it, but we do not know what it will be nor what it will demand of us. The boy in this narrative is becoming a man in a time of enormous change, and his point of view is like a razor cutting through a callous. Painful and healing. Forthright and enormously engaging. This is a book to collect and share and treasure.” —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

“In all his beautiful works, Jim Grimsley has told hard, hidden truths in luminous, subtle prose. Here, he renders history not on the grand, sociological scale, where it is usually written, but on very personal terms, where it is lived . . . But Grimsley’s book illuminates a very large theme--the shadow old evil casts upon the young . . . Exquisite.” —Moira Crone, author of The Not Yet

“Jim Grimsley’s unflinching self-examination of his own boyhood racial prejudices during the era of school desegregation is one of the most compelling memoirs of recent years. Vivid, precise, and utterly honest, How I Shed My Skin is a time-machine of sorts, a reminder that our past is every bit as complex as our present, and that broad cultural changes are often intimate, personal, and idiosyncratic.” —Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire

“How I Shed My Skin is, simply put, a brilliant book. While I was reading, I kept thinking two things. One, this is totally shocking. Two, it’s not at all shocking, but a familiar part of my life and memory. Grimsley’s narrative is straightforward and plain-spoken while at the same time achingly moving and intimately honest, and it does more to explain the South than anything I’ve read in a long, long time.” —Josephine Humphreys, author of No Where Else on Earth

Author Bio

Jim Grimsley is the author of four previous novels, among them Winter Birds, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; Dream Boy, winner of the GLBTF Book Award for literature; My Drowning, a Lila-Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award winner; and Comfort and Joy. He lives in Atlanta and teaches at Emory University.