My friend, Korie, a librarian here in my little Oregon town, has been reading books for months now with one theme in mind — not a white protagonist. Children’s books. YA. Fiction. Nonfiction. She realized a while back how very white her reading list was and made a commitment to change that, both for her personal reading pleasure and also so she can better recommend books that feature people of color to our library patrons and customers. Korie’s the one who recommended An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir in January, my favorite book club book so far — and she recommended the book we selected for March, below, which I’m VERY excited to read. If you’re interested in following Korie while she curates books with leading characters of color, you can look at the hashtag #notawhiteprotagonist on Facebook which has a few of her selections listed or, even better if you’re looking for her comprehensive Not A White Protagonist list, follow her on Litsy where her handle is BookInMyHands.
A Likely Story Book Club
Announcing: March’s Book Selection!
by Nnedi Okorafor
Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one’s place in the world.
Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
READ BELOW for our review of last month’s book, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
But FIRST, I wanted to be sure you know we still have spaces available for the March 9-12 retreat at the Oregon Coast!
If you’re in the Pacific Northwest (or willing to come on over next week ;)), I would LOVE to hang out with you there.
AND, if you’re a teacher or minister, be sure to ask about discounts.
And here’s our review of February’s book, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty:
On a scale of 1-5, 1 being “UGH, I would rather stab myself in the eye than read another book like this,” and 5 being “I am currently buying 57 copies to give to all my friends,” our Facebook group collectively rated Big Little Lies a 3.8.
My rating was 3.5. a 3.5. This was my first Liane Moriarty book. I LOVED her author voice and the way she develops characters with small but telling details. I loved the way she makes characters multi-dimensional — Madeline, for example, who cares about SO MANY superficial things, never met a battle she didn’t want to fight, is kind and unkind at turns, AND is a deeply loyal friend with such relateable feelings about her ex, his wife, and her daughter’s desire to move out. I liked the pacing. It kept my interest. I liked the little “reveals” along the way. However, I am not typically a murder-mystery or suspense reader. I produce plenty of anxiety in my regular life not to need any more in my entertainment life. So, while this was clearly a fictional, escapist type of book, it’s not my favorite way to escape. Personal preference is the only reason I’m not giving this one a 4… she’s clearly a gifted author, and it was a great story.
Comments from our Facebook book club:
Sarah B Arsee wrote: “The heaviness of the abuse subplot really changed this from an escapist book to one inducing way too much anxiety. I think I would rate it a 3-4. 3 because I didn’t enjoy reading it like I wanted to, I was hoping for more escape. 4 because it was really well written and she nailed the myriad of characters. So I guess that means 3.5 from me.”
Terry FischerWolfe wrote: “I really enjoyed this book as a fun quick read. I would give it a 4. I loved the depth of the characters, the fast pace and the humor. I also don’t normally care for murder mysteries, but this one didn’t feel like one. It really felt like a light beach read to me, even though the subjects were pretty heavy.”
Karrie Johnson wrote: “I give it a 4. I enjoy whodunits and it kept me on my edge of my seat wanting me to finish quickly. It also threw in a couple of surprises. Also made me get connected to the character, made me happy to see them happy sad/worried for them when they are distraught. I also think it raised great awareness on abuse.”
Louisa Davidson wrote: “I would give it 4-. I thought the dV plot line was really well done and I kept thinking about it afterwards. But I agree that that does not make for a relaxing or escapist read.”
2 responses to “March Book Selection for It’s A Likely Story Book Club”
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson might be another one to consider for your friend’s list.
I liked Big Little Lies, but I think I prefer “What Alice Forgot.” So that might be a different Liane Moriarty book to consider.
A suggestion for your friend’s list- Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher. It’s not a read for the faint of heart- lots of mom-tears were shed reading- but it’s an excellent book with a biracial narrator.
If you’d like, I can send along a link for my own recently-released novel, The Dead Mothers Club. It’s not super-varied, or focused, really, on racial issues like Whale Talk, but the characters are somewhat diverse- a Black girl with a drug-addicted single mom raising her little sister, a white girl with an abusive step father, a young white man living in foster care with a Black family, and a young Christian Italian boy with an intact, traditional family.
It’s interesting to me, as a writer, to read these posts. I’ve made an effort to think more about diversity in my own writing, but I hate the idea of “shoehorning” characters in for the sake of diversity, and want to be sure I’m true to cultural differences when writing characters from different backgrounds. In fact, I very nearly changed Raejean’s race in DMC, because I was concerned about using a stereotype- the drug addicted single Black mom- but it was unfair to the character. She is a proud young woman and whitewashing her, even with good intentions, would’ve done her no favors.
Happy reading! 🙂