Our Summer Reading Challenge has reached the halfway point – how are you doing? My progress is slow this Summer, maybe I’m sluggish due to the heat, but I am working through the last column of the board! For the final weeks of the challenge, I’ll share what I chose for each of the five squares. This week: Read a Book by an author from New England.
So, I didn’t realize it at the time that I read it, but author Danzy Senna is a Bostonian. I read her psychological thriller New People. In New People, Maria is engaged to the handsome Khalil and living the hipster lifestyle in Brooklyn in the mid-nineties. Her and her fiance are also stars in a reality show focused on multi-racial marriages (both characters come from mixed-race households). But Maria has a secret obsession with a young black poet she has never talked to, and her obsession with him grows once she begins to see him around the places where her and her friends hang out. When she takes it to the next level, breaking into his apartment and even posing as his neighbor’s nanny, she risks losing her grip on reality and her seemingly wonderful life. Senna, herself bi-racial, has discussed the identity struggle that can occur when a person is forced to code-switch so often, with in their own family or friend circle, or is pressured to favor one part of their heritage over another. The book is pretty fast-paced and lends itself well to discussion.
Another New England author I might recommend is Celeste Ng. Many of our book groups have read and discussed the events of her books Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere. Both books reflect upon family relationships and dynamics, and questions from the past thought tucked safely away that unexpectedly rise up to haunt a new generation. She deftly incorporates to these seemingly domestic dramas contemporary social issues of race, class and identity.
Ng’s newest title, Our Missing Hearts, due out in October, takes on the problem of censorship in a society rampant with fear and anxiety and desperate to eradicate the influence, and maybe, existence, of a specific group of people. It is a frightening scenario, but certainly not one foreign to our current situation. It’s a thrilling and heartrending novel about a boy, in the midst of this fearful world trying to uncover the mystery of his mother’s influence and sudden disappearance, and the underground network of librarians that work to help him.