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Download The Grace of Silence: A Memoir Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, by Michele Norris Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (914 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michele Norris Narrator: Michele Norris Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A profoundly moving and deeply personal memoir by the co-host of National Public Radio’s flagship program All Things Considered
While exploring the hidden conversation on race unfolding throughout America in the wake of President Obama’s election, Michele Norris discovered that there were painful secrets within her own family that had been willfully withheld. These revelations—from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer to her maternal grandmother’s job as an itinerant Aunt Jemima in the Midwest—inspired a bracing journey into her family’s past, from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South. 
The result is a rich and extraordinary family memoir—filled with stories that elegantly explore the power of silence and secrets—that boldly examines racial legacy and what it means to be an American.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Revelatory, heart-piercing.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Beguiling…Powerful…Her well-rounded view of the world demonstrates wisdom given by her strong, intelligent mother and her hard-working, proud father.”

    Louisville Courier-Journal

  • “Jaw-dropping. Can’t put down…Riveting…[Norris] uses her signature calm and steady voice to open up about her complicated relatives.”


  • “An open and honest examination of race relations in her family’s and the country’s past.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Exquisite…[A] rich account of family history.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Powerful and heartbreaking…[Norris] explores race within her family history while tracing its complex legacy in the United States.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A deeply personal reflection on what her parents and grandparents did and did not tell her about her history and identity as a black woman…A fresh and candid reflection on this most important conversation.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “Gracefully written and carefully researched, it offers up long-buried family secrets as a testimony to racism’s power and reach.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “A powerful plea to readers to doggedly pursue their families’ story lines. She reminds us that speaking candidly about race in America starts not at the president’s teleprompter but at our own dinner tables.”

    Washington Post

  • An insightful, elegant rendering of how the history of an American family illuminates the history of our country. Toni Morrison
  • A riveting, inspiring memoir of an at once singular and representative American family. Norris takes us on a painful yet triumphant journey of self-discovery. She relies on her formidable skills as an investigative reporter to unearth shocking family secrets kept from her by her father and mother when she was growing up. Feeling hurt and betrayed, she learns that their lack of forthrightness allowed her to rise in a country haunted by its racial past. Powerful and tender, The Grace of Silence reveals our human complexity in exemplary fashion. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, and author of Colored People
  • History at its best is about telling stories—stories about people who lived before, about events in the past that create the contours of the present…In the hands of a gifted storyteller, a memoir becomes more than a chronicle of the writer’s life. It becomes the history of a time and a place. So it is with this magnificent memoir—one of the most eloquent, moving and insightful memoirs I have ever read. Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of the New York Times bestseller Team of Rivals
  • Michele Norris takes us on a riveting personal journey from north to south and back again through the tangled landscape of race in America—and teaches anew about the pain and possibilities of our past and future. Tom Brokaw, author of New York Times bestsellers The Greatest Generation and Boom
  • A soaring memoir that pays powerful tribute to the quiet and dignified heroes among us. Norris’ remarkable family, and her courageous journey to tell their story, creates an inspiring portrait of America that will stay with you forever. I loved this book. 
                —Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps
  • In this exquisite memoir, Michele Norris turns her formidable powers of interviewing and storytelling onto her toughest subjects: herself, her family, and this country’s scar tissue. What follows is a journey of discovery into some of the darkest corners and brightest stars of the greatest generation. The Grace of Silence is sometimes raw, often gripping, and always graceful. A remarkably moving and enriching experience. Richard Wolffe, author New York Times bestseller Renegade: The Making of a President
  • A revealing, affectionate and sometimes painful memoir which dispenses with stereotype to get to the heart of what makes a family. Gwen Ifill, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2010 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Memoir

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jan | 2/20/2014

    " "How well do you know the people who raised you? . . . Look around at your loved ones, especially the elders. . . . If you don't already know the answers, the people who raised you will most likely remain a mystery, unless you take the bold step and say: Tell me more about yourself. . . . There is grace in silence, and power to be had from listening to that which, more often than not, was left unsaid." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Debbe | 2/5/2014

    " I heard the author speak at LFPL. Good book and excellent speaker. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Peggy Jeffcoat | 1/21/2014

    " This memoir by the journalist Michele Norris is a thought provoking book about growing up black and about what her parents endured in their childhoods in the South. It is probably a 3+. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tom | 1/1/2014

    " I liked it because it didn't feel like a 'famous person's' memoir; it came across as honest, unassuming, and straightforward. In the same way, the historical context she gives is sufficient without being overly detailed or preachy. As a result, some of her insights and observations seem more poignant and moving than they might otherwise be. Worth a read. "

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