It’s sunny and bright this morning, with milder temperatures expected over the next week, so my plan is to finish this post as quickly as possible and get outside for a long walk before heading back to work tomorrow. I can’t rush my steaming cup of chai tea or my slice of freshly baked Date Bread, though… some things demand to be savoured.
My book club met virtually yesterday to discuss Angie Thomas’ Young Adult novel, The Hate U Give, which was chosen to be read during Black History Month due to the story, but it has also been banned or challenged because it featured drug use and explicit language. Starr Carter is a sixteen-year-old black girl living in a poor neighbourhood who attends an elite, predominantly white school on the other side of town. She must separate and balance both personas, not being too “white” in her black neighbourhood, but not bringing too much “ghetto” into her white environment. The book opens with Starr at a party where she meets her old friend and first crush, Khalil. They hang out and catch up, but when an incident occurs, they leave together, with Khalil promising to bring her home. They are stopped by police on a deserted road and, although unarmed and despite complying with all demands, Khalil is shot and killed, with Starr as the sole witness. What follows is her struggle to seek justice for Khalil while also keeping herself and her family safe, as well as maintaining her two separate personas. I was so impressed with this novel and with Thomas’ ability to tell a tragic, moving story without making it seem angry - it didn’t shout, but spoke calmly, clearly and with confidence. The characters and situations were credible and the story depicted a sad-but-all-too-true situation, with black people being treated unfairly all the time, everywhere, even today. Only one person was able to join the discussion yesterday, so we didn’t delve too deeply into the novel. Our discussion was more general, touching on the fact that this book was a real eye-opener for us; although we know this in a general sort of way, it's difficult to really believe that many people live in areas where gunshots and sirens are commonplace and that they should expect to be treated unfairly by police, so they shouldn't make any sudden moves and they should keep their hands visible at all times. Yes, drugs played a role in this story, but I thought Thomas explained the situation to readers clearly, that not all drug dealers are thugs, and that sometimes you do what you have to do to save the ones you love. We discussed the fact that Starr attended a posh prep school rather than attending the school in her own community. We discussed why Starr’s father Maverick resisted moving his family to a better neighbourhood and his altruistic motives for keeping his business there. My book club member said that the audiobook also included an excerpt from Thomas' next book, On the Come Up, which she found interesting enough to want to read at some point. This was a perfect book to lead into an exploration of the Black Lives Matter movement, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has not yet read it.
I also finished listening to the fourth book in the “Rockton” series by Kelley Armstrong, Watcher in the Woods, and WOW, it was amazing! An unexpected visitor arrives in Rockton, and Casey and Eric are at a loss as to how to handle this US Marshall, who claims to have a warrant for one of the residents. Casey and Eric already have their hands full with Casey’s sister, April, in town to help out with a medical emergency, so they can’t give the Marshall their full attention. Then the situation escalates and they must act fast, because this is a town full of criminals who are certain that this visitor is there for them. I think this was the best book yet, although I’ve kind of forgotten the first book I listened to, Alone in the Wild, which is the fifth book and the one that got me interested in this series in the first place. I just picked up the most recent “Rockton” book, A Stranger in Town, and I’m super-excited to get to it, but I’ve also got at least ten other library books sitting on my coffee table waiting to be prioritized. So many books, and, as always, so little time… sigh…
That’s all for today. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Oh, and Happy International Women’s Day (tomorrow)!
Bye for now… Julie