At a time when nostalgia has been co-opted by the far right ("Make America Great Again"), a liberal white woman wrestles with the politics of the reluctant nostalgia she feels her childhood, her European immigrant family history and her working-class upbringing in Pennsylvania.
In a series of deceptively sly essays about seemingly slight topics—a family road trip, a favorite movie, a class reunion—Niesslein probes what it means to remember, and what it means to forget ... Niesslein deals with the politics of nostalgia, but only sometimes directly (and those tend to be the only sort of slow parts of this breezy and charm-filled book) ... Niesslein is not so bleak, and only really touches on this at the margins. She is a breezy, charming storyteller, and a disher of amiable asides. She even manages to end the book on an optimistic note, that our competing stories can actually turn into some kind of hope
Niesslein is a nuanced thinker, and she honors the tremendous complexity of nostalgia in the nine essays contained within this book ... I won’t spoil the pleasure you will take in these collected essays by sharing with you her final words. Trust me that she lands in an interesting place, a place that asks us to think about the past we are creating right now.
... candid and thoughtful ... I appreciate Niesslein’s candor and willingness to take on such deeply rooted American problems, but her commentary at times falls short of revelatory ... In 'Mighty White of Me,' she admits to her past complacency and ends her commentary with a list of the ways she is now engaged in the fight against white supremacy. It’s reminiscent of a confessional Facebook post, or the shallow calls to wear a 'pink pussy' hat in protest of Trump’s election—well-meaning, yet performative. But the true strength of Niesslein’s collection does not lie in her racial or political commentary, but rather in her deeply personal and lovingly written ruminations on her own memories.