Black Ice has been called "probably the most beautifully written and the most moving African-American autobiographical narrative since Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (Arnold Rampersad). Cary describes her experiences as a teenager from inner-city Philadelphia becoming one of the first black and female students to attend the newly co-educational and integrated St. Paul's School, a prestigious New England boarding school. Cary recounts how she found herself suddenly catapulted into a world of privilege--surrounded by bright, aggressive students and demanding teachers. In spite of integration, coeducation, and a liberalized curriculum, St. Paul's was a world that had yet to shed the exclusivity and prejudice which had consistently denied Cary's race and sex the opportunities that were now open to her. Cary tells of what she brought to the school and what she gained from it, and she describes the experience of returning to St. Paul's several years after graduation to teach and the discovery of what it was like to be on the other side, the side of establishment and authority.
"[Black Ice] is much more than a compelling personal narrative, the book is a journey into selfhood that resonates with sober reflection, intelligent passion, and joyous love....Cary's authorial mastery--like the book that represents it--signals a black triumph."—Houston Baker