Discuss the Nature of Identity in Jess Row’s “Your Face in Mine”
Author Jess Row muses on the questions of race, identity, and globalization in Your Face in Mine, a story that revolves around a man named Kelly Thorndike who is mourning the loss of his family until he stumbles across an old friend named Martin, who went to a shady plastic surgeon to undergo “racial reassignment surgery.” Delighted with his results, Martin asks Kelly to help him spread the word about this controversial new surgery, to which Kelly naively agrees. However, his life quickly hits rock bottom and it leaves him wondering if he should’ve kept quiet about the procedure.
The novel is a fascinating look at cultural appropriation and the question of identity as it pertains to globalization. Even though Martin feels as if he is born into the “wrong race,” just because he undergoes plastic surgery doesn’t mean he will ever truly understand the culture he’s trying to assimilate into because he’s never grown up with the struggles that many minorities face even to this day.
Row also comments on how many white people often treat the culture and identity of minorities as a costume or as something to be consumed—for example, dressing up as a stereotype of a “Native American princess.” They want all the “exotic perks” without any of the racism that people of color face.
While the author may preach some very harsh truths, Your Face in Mine is an eye-opening and enlightening read that will force its readers to muse on race, identity, and cultural appropriation.