Nonfiction Book Award Status: GOLD
In this timely and necessary book by a co-author of the women’s health classic Our Bodies, Ourselves, Wendy Sanford, who is white, reflects on her complex lifelong friendship with Mary Norman, who is Black. Sanford explores her formation in a narrow world of class and race privilege, lifts up the writings and social movements that changed her views and her life, reveals realities of domestic service rarely acknowledged by white employers, and offers lessons from her oft-stumbling efforts to see Mary Norman more fully and to become a more dependable friend.
Wendy Sanford grew up in an upper-middle-class white suburban family in Princeton, New Jersey, and attended private schools throughout her life. During the socially turbulent time of the 1970s, she became a feminist, a lesbian, and a Quaker. A founding member of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Wendy coauthored and edited many versions of the women’s health and sexuality classic Our Bodies, Ourselves from 1973 to 2011. In seminary at Harvard Divinity School in the 1980s, she began to read works of women of color as “devotional reading,” to remedy her previous exclusive exposure to white and mostly male authors. She served for nearly a decade in campus ministry in the Boston area. In her fifties, she began to reckon with her own white skin and the benefits that came to her through being white. In 2003, she earned an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Cambridge, MA, with Polly Attwood, her spouse of forty-one years.