Extraordinary, Ordinary People is a great title, but inapt for this book. Toward the end Rice quotes the Greatest American Hero theme song "Believe or not, I'm walking on air." (YouTube link) I think a more accurate title in the same vein, would have been "Believe it or not, it's just me." Whether you love or hate her (and I'm in the latter camp, though I'd probably say "fear/revile," rather than "hate"), you have to acknowledge that Rice is in no way ordinary. Most people know she excelled in piano, but did you know she was also a competitive figure skater in her adolescence? Ignoring her political accomplishments (or crimes, if that's how you see them), she is a superstar solely as an academic, having achieved the rank of full professor and provost at Stanford University before she was 40. Also, although Rice clearly loves and appreciates her deceased parents and extended family, this is not a memoir of family; it's an autobiography from birth (preceded with a little family history) to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in favor of W. To me it's also interesting as a memoir of the Birmingham Black middle class.
Dec 28 2010