As of yesterday, I had finished my Goodreads.com reading challenge by finishing my 50th book this year. I decided to look at my own challenge to read more Diverse Narrators and see where I am in it and sadly, I’m not any further along then my last update. I have books picked out for some categories but I still haven’t read them and I still don’t know about the others. So dear friends of the internet, help me out with some book recommendations. What should I read to for the following.
A Book with a Trans Narrator I thought about using Alex Fierro from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead but the story is only from Magnus point of view so that’s out. I’ve read good reviews for If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo. So I’ll think I’ll try that one but do you know of any other good book with a Trans Narrator?
A Book with an African Narrator I’ve settled on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah because everyone I know who has read it has loved it and I do love him on the Daily Show. Of course, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor I’m also interested in too.
A Book with an Asian Narrator I thought about using Warcross by Marie Lu but Emika Chen is Asian American and I already have two books for that one and Hideo Tanaka who is British Japanese is not the narrator of the story, only Emika. A friend recommended Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee but I’m not sure.
A Book with a Native American Narrator Sadly, I’m not sure. Sherman Alexie’s books? Has anyone read Alyson Noel’s Soul Seekers series?
A Book with an Indigenous Mexican Narrator I’m even more loss on this one. I thought for a second about All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater but by the beginning of the story, the Soria’s have lived in Colorado for over a century and the story is more about the family now then their pasts. So any suggestions?
I’m open to anything. Fiction, Non-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance. Whatever you got I’m up for it. Leave your suggestions in the comments below or hit me up on our Twitter @StacksXLiveX and Facebook
So far I’ve read 13 out of 30. As I don’t like failing at things I set out for myself, I have thought about rearranging the things that I’ve read this year on the list so that I can use things that aren’t currently on the list so that I can satisfy categories I haven’t gotten yet. Like, if I moved Shonda Rhimes to “read a book by a woman of color” then I could put Caitlin Moran in at “read a book by a woman”. But, I read Shonda Rhimes book first, so it is staying where it is. The good news for me is that I have another six categories already picked out. The even better news is that I’m part way through two of those books. However, there’s still a lot of work that has to be done in 2016 and, I have to tell you, folks. I’m not feeling sanguine about meeting the challenge this year.
In terms of format, this is a really neat book. It is part text and part drawings. Junior, the narrator (and the part-time Indian) is an artist. He lives on the Spokane Indian reservation and, after an incident where he throws a textbook at a teacher after he feels the world collapsing in on him, he enrolls in the school in the next town over. The mostly white school. He’s a smart and funny kid with a lot of artistic talent. I was really taken by the voice of the narrator, who inhabits this in-between place. He’s Spokane, but because he’s left the reservation school and at least one of his friends feels abandoned he doesn’t always feel at home when he’s at home anymore. But, he’s always the outsider at his new school. Junior’s experiences highlight a lot of problems on reservations. There is crushing poverty and we see that through Junior and his family. There is lack of access to resources and we see that through his first school and through his interactions with his best friend and with his sister (who used to dream about being a romance author and now just lives as a shut-in in his parents basement.) There is racism when he leaves the rez and there is a high instance of alcoholism. There is cultural appropriation and cultural theft. We see all of these things in Junior’s story. While he has a lot of high points in his first year at his new high school, he has some terrible low ones. This book had me in tears more than once. But, it was an interesting read. In particular, it was really interesting to see this character struggle with and work through his identity moving between these two worlds that he inhabits.
And, while I have no doubts that things really are that bad (lack of access to resources, poverty, alcoholism, racism, troubling representations of native peoples, violence towards indigenous people, in particular indigenous women), I… I felt like towards the end of the novel that I was maybe being told things that someone may have thought I wanted to hear? Or, maybe like I was voyeuristically looking in on someone else’s tragedy and pain that was set up in a manner particular for my consumption? I don’t know. The characters were real and believable, the text was believable. I just…felt like I was being sung a sad song because that was the theater I’d walked into.
That being said, the book really is a neat format and the characters were really likable and if you know going into it that this book is going to make you cry and that’s something you don’t mind I recommend it.
This book counts as my book with a character who is Native America, Indigenous Mexican or First Nations in the Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Challenge.