by Alisha Rai, 2017
Goddamn you, Read Harder Challenge and your read “a romance by or about a person of color.” I resent you and Alisha Rai for making me have feelings. Now, I’m certainly not a convert to the romance genre, and I don’t see myself continuing this series, but there were aspects of the book that I greatly appreciated, nay, respected and I just did not expect that from a genre that I typically brush aside. I still hate love, but I don’t hate someone who has written realistically about love and all the messiness it entails.
by Attica Locke, 2012
narrated by Quincy Tyler Bernstine*
The Cutting Season is a mystery that mixes a classic whodunit with pressing social issues. Caren Gray is a manager for Belle Vie, a Louisiana plantation that serves as an event space and tourist attraction, complete with antebellum reenactments. When a woman’s body ends up on the plantation grounds with her throat slit, and a suspicious stain is found on her daughter’s clothes, Caren finds herself on a search to find out the truth about Belle Vie and the past that continues to mar its present.
by Octavia E. Butler, 1977
Mind of My Mind is second book in the Patternist series, in both chronological and publication order. It serves as a prequel to Patternmaster (as they all do), and here we get to find out how the Pattern began. We meet Mary, child of the powerful and undying Doro who is set upon building a society of “actives.” While Doro can only inhabit another’s thoughts by killing them, the actives can truly read others’ minds. The problem is that their powers are too strong for them to stand being around one another, so, for the race of actives to live on, Doro must continue to father them. It’s not until the even more powerful Mary arrives that Doro can start to imagine his plan coming to fruition. Yes, this means there’s a bit of incest going on here. Butler does not really address the moral ramifications of this, but since we’re talking about a man bent on building his own society of telepaths, I suppose we’ve already signed on for a bit of crazy, haven’t we?
by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Brian Stelfreeze, 2016
In the Read Harder Challenge’s eighth task – a comic written or illustrated by a person of color – I found the perfect opportunity to finally read the Black Panther reboot, written by none other than Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ve expounded on my love of his writing before, so I’ve been quite curious to see what he would do with the superhero genre. My reaction? Ambivalence. I’m not sure if it’s him or if it’s me, but I spent most of the story unsure of what was really happening and feeling as though I had missed the memo on this iconic African superhero.
by Kevin Kwan, 2013
narrated by Lynn Chen
Is it enough for characters to be a different race in order for the story to be different? This is the question I asked myself while listening to Crazy Rich Asians. The wealthy Nick Young has invited his girlfriend Rachel Chu to his Singaporean home for the summer as he serves best man duties in his friend Colin’s wedding. There’s only one problem: Rachel has no idea how rich Nick is. In fact, Rachel knows nothing about Nick’s family and, having incorrectly guessed that he may be embarrassed to have come from meager beginnings, she’s forced to reevaluate her entire relationship when she finds herself face to face with elaborate dinners, horrendously expensive ballgowns, and regal women who will do anything to stop the heir to the Young fortune from marrying this common girl. Hijinks ensue. All kinds of Asian hijinks.
by Nelson Mandela, 1994
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
“The bold man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
by Celeste Ng, 2017
I loved Everything I Never Told You, so I was supremely excited to get my hands on Celeste Ng’s second novel. Like her debut, Little Fires Everywhere focuses on suburban life, both the promise that it holds and the prison that it can become. Elena Richardson has a seemingly idyllic life with her husband Bill in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Bill is a successful attorney, Elena is a respected local journalist, and their four high school-aged children – Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy – complete this portrait of a perfect American family. Well, except for Izzy who, at the beginning of the novel, has set fires in each of the bedrooms of the Richardson home. Izzy has always been Mrs. Richardson’s greatest struggle and she will be her ultimate undoing.