#ReadDiverseLit Post for "Book with a main character who is mixed race"

Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet. 1977, May 3, 6:30 in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast. 

These are the first lines of Everything I Never Told Youa novel, by Celeste Ng. It's written in a shifting third person, a pov I don't read much, and tells the story of a missing (dead) high school girl. By hovering over the thoughts of her parents and siblings in this shifting, but close, third person, the reader sees events from many different perspectives. Ng writes lovely sentences and her plot kept me turning the pages.

What really set this book apart for me, though, is that it's the story of a mixed-race marriage and of mixed-race children. These are the kinds of books I write as a mixed author, but I haven't had the opportunity to read very many of them. Wait. I haven't read any novels like this. And the few books I have read are about the black/white mixed-race experience: The Color of Water, by James McBride, Caucasia by Danzy Senna, and Dreams of My Father by Barrack Obama.

Everything I Never Told You is a truly Asian-American novel, revealing some of the loneliness of what it is to be an outsider in small-town America, something I know quite well.

So, in addition to Everything I Never Told You and the books mentioned above, I have to recommend Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies for people looking to read more about from mixed race characters. Apparently, there aren't too many book likes this out there!


#ReadDiverseLit Post: Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me

I took my time reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' book, Between the World and Me. From the opening pages, it reminded me of James Baldwin. Both writers challenge me to think through their pages, to consider their arguments, and see how their view of the world connects with my own. But the part of his book I couldn't stop thinking about, was the protection of the black body, of the value of the black body to our nation, and in particular how he describes his walk to school as a young man.  
"When I was your age, each day, fully one-third of my brain was concerned with who I was walking to school with, our precise number, the manner of our walk, the number of times I smiled, who or what I smiled at, who offered a pound and who did not—all of which to say, I practiced the culture of the streets. [...] I do not long for those days. I think I somehow knew that that third of my brain should have been concerned with more beautiful things. I think I felt that something out there [...] had robbed me of... what?"

The other evening, I rode my bike home from work. It was a little later than usual, so I was paying close attention to cars and bumps in the road that might sneak up on me in the darkness. The sun was setting and the cold, winter, LA sky, glowed brilliant shades of red and orange against bright and blue darkening to navy. Every time I looked up, I was met with a different version of this beauty and tried to smile in appreciation. I also couldn't help but think about Coates and the protection of the body. I relate to this as a woman, a small woman, and a small woman riding through LA traffic. Yet I still do not know what it is to hold the fear of violence as a black man in America like Coates describes. When I was young I walked home from school musing red cinder on asphalt or juniper pollen or ice under mostly blue skies. I recognize this privilege and hope more of America will pick up this important and timely book to explore how our experiences connect and differ. 

As part of the #ReadDiversLit challenge, this counts as a memoir or biography by a diverse author. This category has so many titles I love to read (and write) so here are a few books I recommend if you're looking to fulfill this part of the challenge:

Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje: A nontraditional, beautifully rendered memoir of the author's family in Sri Lanka.

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward: The unique structure of this memoir beautifully and brutally sheds light on the violence of growing up poor, black, and male in the American South.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: Essays on pop culture and feminism from an intelligent Black voice.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin: Coates' letter to his son brought me right to Baldwin's letter to his nephew from this work.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: Alex Haley and Malcolm X: This book was my introduction to the Civil Rights movement beyond Martin Luther King Jr.
Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies by Noriko Nakada: The story my early childhood and middle school years from a multi-racial perspective.

Oh, and on my list to read in this category: Fire Shut Up In My Bones by Charles M. Blow.