If you’ve been paying attention you will have noticed that I read this book in a day. It is an awkward book for me to talk about because it is about a sensitive topic and it really exposed a lot of my own ignorance, for which I am incredibly ashamed.
If you don’t know it is a story about racism but with a twist; the white people are oppressed and the black people have all the power. It is an incredibly interesting concept and being YA it is a brilliant way to get young people thinking about racism. I knew a lot of my friends had read it at school and we had the series in the school library, but I had never read it myself as I sort of resented reading books that teachers recommended as they were usually quite condescending about it and I normally found them to be ‘a bit babyish’. The fact that this book was aimed at a younger audience did hinder my enjoyment of it a little but it had absolutely no impact on the potency of the message.
WHAM. Goodness me this book really made me think. I wish to make it clear that I am white and from one of the whitest areas of the UK. I have always thought myself an incredibly tolerant person and have vocally fought for equality and diversity before. Then I read this book and I realised that my imagination could not create an image of a young black girl; because I had maybe seen one or two in my life time. Shocking isn’t it? Because it wasn’t just that I hadn’t seen enough young black girls in person to be able to create one in my head I hadn’t seen any represented in the media either. Suddenly I was disgusted with myself and the society I lived in. I was so blinded by my own privilege I didn’t know what a young black girl should look like.
It is this kind of low-level prejudice which has become an issue in society and it is so easy to overcome. Yes things have changed, although there are still horrific acts of racial hatred committed every day, and I do live in a very isolated community where people generally never leave the village, but still I had only seen white people represented in TV, film, magazines, books etc and now I see that, I see how wrong it is. I have since moved to London, which is of course much more diverse, and I make an active effort to look at, and get to know the people who are different from me so that I educate myself. I have become aware that some how I was programmed to only see white people and this book open my eyes to the importance of diversity and just how beautiful it is.
Discussions of race on the internet rarely remain civilised. I just wish to take this opportunity to say that if anything I have said above has offended you, PLEASE let me know WHY so I can educated myself; don’t just shout and scream. However, I really hope that I have dealt with this topic in a sensitive manner and maybe made you think about it too.
Rating:3/5 – only because of the story
Would recommend to: all white people.