Kiley Reid introduces us into an story that is infused with intriguing and flawed characters all throughout the narrative. Although this is a “fiction-ish” coming of age story, it explores very real experiences such as racism, white privilege, gender relations, interracial dating, youth into adulthood and motherhood. Reid tells a story of the horrors and terrors that the black community ultimately faces whether seen on the social outlets or not. The differences in the encounters within this story is that they do not end in the violence that we have been prone to seeing in “America.”
The protagonist the author uses is Emira Tucker, perceived as an unconscious but conscious black girl seeking identity and purpose. Yes that’s confusing right ? Exactly, Reid dropped the reader a couple of times with wonder and uncertainty. Personally I felt that Emira created a suspense all on her own. I wasn’t sure if she would be reactionary to the racial slurs and hidden agendas or let it pass, or allow gender bias and interracial relationships define her as a individual. I feel that many can relate to the reality struggles Emira faces of finding ones place in their career and overall purpose. Most, in this generation portrayed ,go to college with a degree that they either don’t even work in that field or find themselves in an entry level position that doesn’t require their hard earned degree. Also did you know President #45 is currently having discussions of prioritizing job skill over degree for future employment? What does that led to? Income insufficiencies leading to the start of comparison to society based income, popularity, jobs, student debt and basically “keeping up with the Jones.”
The setting of Reid’s impactful story shows us modern day racism. A time similar to our present day experiences. On display is a “white savior” with the characters Alix and Kelly; providing their “help” to a non-white person (Emira) but in a self-serving manner. They both believe they are serving purpose, safety and “love” to this black girl, but really are destroying their own character and showing their race complex. Many may argue or question that it is not the intentions nor the actions that are wrong, but rather it’s the approach. If you ask me it’s ALL wrong, every aspect of it and can only be rectified by being educated (and not by the black community,educate yourselves), check your compassion, and respect the power and knowledge in each individual.
Just as the author leaves the reader with the question, Where do the characters go from here, is the same question we all should be asking ourselves. As some of us has been hit with an reality check, “woke” with recent events happening in this country, then some who has been woke for some time now but has not done anything to promote change, Where do you go from here? Personally my commitment to change is to provide this outlet to knowledge through black literature and spotlight on black/POC authors. Reading is one of my passions and I have grown and been educated on many levels through it, so I admonish you to find your change and find it quick.