my take: Whew. Almost quit on this one. Some of the content was so disturbing I wasn’t sure I wanted to read on. Ignorance is bliss.
The story is told by three narrators: a Black middle-aged Labor and Delivery nurse, a twenty something White supremacist, and a thirty-something public defender. Their lives come together when the nurse is assigned to care for the supremacist’s newborn baby.
Great plot, well-developed characters, and an excellent behind the scenes look at the judicial system, the hard realities of racism in America, and the hidden world of hate groups. I was physically ill reading how such groups prey on and recruit people and how they’re working to populate their movement. Truly scary stuff.
This is a thoughtful and deeply personal probing at racism for the author and her peeling back the veil for her readers:
“Most of us think the word racism is synonymous with the word prejudice. But racism is more than just discrimination based on skin color. It’s also about who has institutional power. Just as racism creates disadvantages for people of color that make success harder to achieve, it also gives advantages to white people that make success easier to achieve. It’s hard to see those advantages, much less own up to them. And that, I realized, was why I had to write this book. When it comes to social justice, the role of the white ally is not to be a savior or a fixer. Instead, the role of the ally is to find other white people and talk to make them see that many of the benefits they’ve enjoyed in life are direct results of the fact that someone else did not have the same benefits.” (from the Author’s Note)
Although I see some of the advantages I have, I have progress to make in ferreting out where White privilege is unseen in my life, and I appreciated this quote/knowledge that my role is to convince other Whites of their privileged position.
my source: Son’s girlfriend, Hillary, loves all things Jodi Picoult and shared the hardcover copy with me.
my verdict: Uncomfortable, necessary read
Uncomfortable but necessary is sometimes a tough sell, but this really does make me appreciate skillful fiction writers so much more – especially since I pretty much refuse to read non-fiction – and how they can open our eyes to where we have been blind or mistaken in our views of the world. Am I next in line for this copy?!