The Girl in the Mid­dle: Grow­ing Up Between Black and White, Rich and Poor

Anais Gra­nof­sky

  • Review
By – May 18, 2022

While Cana­di­ans of a cer­tain age will instant­ly asso­ciate actress Anais Gransof­sky with her Degras­si series char­ac­ter Lucy Fer­nan­dez, her recent mem­oir The Girl In The Mid­dle goes beyond this role and cap­tures the way her fam­i­ly his­to­ry shaped her lived child­hood expe­ri­ences. With par­ents from two very dif­fer­ent back­grounds — sep­a­rat­ed by their racial, reli­gious, and socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus — the author writes with humil­i­ty and hon­esty about how these dif­fer­ences shaped her under­stand­ing of her family’s his­to­ry and herself.

Granofsky’s book cen­ters on her child­hood in the sev­en­ties and eight­ies, but it is excep­tion­al because it car­ries read­ers into the deep­er his­to­ries of freed Black slaves in Ohio, Toronto’s nascent Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, and America’s East­ern-inspired coun­ter­cul­ture spir­i­tu­al­ism. With Gra­nof­sky her­self as the inter­sec­tion of these influ­ences, the con­text she pro­vides in how they shaped her par­ents and grand­par­ents grounds the author as more than a curi­ous indi­vid­ual seek­er. Rather, it high­lights a uni­ver­sal mes­sage for her work, that we all come from some­where, and that none of our sto­ries are com­plete­ly lin­ear or tidy. Granofsky’s abil­i­ty to engage with these his­to­ries with a clear, and often coura­geous, gaze invites read­ers to join her in the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of all our stories.

The author does not shy away from describ­ing the tru­ly dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances through which she lived, the pover­ty and racism expe­ri­enced by her moth­er and her fam­i­ly, the anti­semitism and dis­lo­ca­tion of her father’s fam­i­ly, or her par­ents’ eco­nom­ic, spir­i­tu­al, and mar­i­tal dis­tress. Per­haps it is that time allows her to bring a more com­pas­sion­ate and even-keeled view of her past to her writ­ing, but she also main­tains a tight nar­ra­tive that rejects pity.

The Girl In the Mid­dle is not a book for read­ers who are hop­ing for a glitzi­er inside look at the world of Degras­si. It is, how­ev­er, a rich­ly reward­ing book for read­ers who are will­ing to go deep­er into the sto­ry of an indi­vid­ual bal­anc­ing on the edge of the dis­ap­point­ments, expec­ta­tions, bias­es, and hopes of the gen­er­a­tions that came before her.

Deb­by Miller is a long-time board mem­ber of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, serv­ing on its Fic­tion com­mit­tee, and lat­er found­ing the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award for Book Clubs. She is cur­rent­ly a Vice Pres­i­dent of the orga­ni­za­tion. Deb­by is based in Greens­boro, NC and has been involved in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty through Nation­al Coun­cil of Jew­ish Women (NCJW), AIPAC, B’nai Shalom and the Fed­er­a­tion. She was pres­i­dent of the local Women’s Divi­sion and cam­paign chair, and also got involved in the Nation­al Women’s Divi­sion. One of her pri­ma­ry phil­an­thropic endeav­ors is her work with JDC, where she has been a mem­ber of the board since 1994

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