In this singular and intimate memoir of identity and discovery, Vanessa A. Bee explores the way we define "home" and "belonging" -- from her birth in Yaoundé, Cameroon, to her adoption by her aunt and her aunt's white French husband, to experiencing housing insecurity in Europe and her eventual immigration to the US. After her parents' divorce, Vanessa traveled with her mother to Lyon and later to London, eventually settling in Reno, Nevada, as a teenager, right around the financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market. At twenty, still a practicing evangelical Christian and newly married, Vanessa applied to and was accepted by Harvard Law School, where she was one of the youngest members of her class. There, she forged a new belief system, divorced her husband, left the church, and, inspired by her tumultuous childhood, pursued a career in economic justice upon graduation.
Vanessa's adoptive, multiracial, multilingual, multinational, and transcontinental upbringing has caused her to grapple for years with foundational questions such as: What is home? Is it the country we're born in, the body we possess, or the name we were given and that identifies us? Is it the house we remember most fondly, the social status assigned to us, or the ideology we forge? What defines us and makes us uniquely who we are?
Organized unconventionally around her own dictionary-style definitions of the word "home," Vanessa tackles these timeless questions thematically and unpacks the many layers that contribute to and condition our understanding of ourselves and of our place in the world.
Vanessa A. Bee is a consumer protection lawyer and essayist. Born in Cameroon, she grew up inFrance, England, and the United States. Vanessa holds an undergraduate degree from theUniversity of Nevada and a law degree from Harvard. She lives in Washington, DC.