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I was out for a run recently when a man hanging out the passenger side of a Kia Sorento yelled at me to sit on his face. This happened a half mile from my home, with my husband running beside me. Most of the time I run on a treadmill in my basement. I should be able to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air without being harassed, all women should, but this is the world we live in. The idiot with bad taste in SUVs probably didn’t give that incident a second thought afterwards, but I sure did. I thought about it the rest of the day.

I suppose the upside to running in an environment where I don’t have to be alert to creeps and predators is listening to audio books. I’ve been on a roll lately with non-fiction, and Real American kept the momentum going.  

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the daughter of a white British mother and an African-American father, and her memoir is basically a book-length reckoning with her complicated identity. She was raised in mostly white communities and attended elite universities, and she struggled in both places to fit in with either her white or black classmates. Her relationship with her mother has been strained at times because as much as her mother might want to understand where Julie is coming from, she’ll never fully know her experience. Growing up, Julie’s relationship with her father carried its own baggage, as she noticed how differently they were treated if her mother wasn’t with them. When they first moved into a new house in a fancy suburb, their neighbors thought her father was the gardener.

I love listening to authors read their own work, and Lythcott-Haims is a fantastic reader. Her voice brings intensity, emotion, and beneath it all, an unyielding dignity. If I’m going to be spending more quality time with the treadmill, I’m glad I have great audio books like hers to keep me going.