The other day, in my bookstore, we had a small child who was dropped off by her caregivers. This was a child who was definitely not old enough to be spending hours in a retail store, by herself. I won’t go into detail, to protect her, but suffice it to say that the authorities had to be called and it was very painful for all involved.
I was having a lot of trouble moving past the incident, since the little girl involved was the same age as my own youngest daughter. A little boy, who with his parents is a very frequent customer, asked me about the incident the next day. He asked me many questions about the incident, some of which he had witnessed, including why someone would do that, would leave a child by themselves in a store.
My discussion with him and eventual answer brought a coworker to the verge of tears, and helped me as well. Here is the gist of the answer I gave him:
“Sadly, not everyone is a nice person. Some people do bad things, and we have no control over that. We can’t change how other people act, we can only control how we act. So what we can do is try to be good people, be nice people, and when we see someone in trouble, we can help them.”
Hugh Jackman, on BBC radio, singing a selection from Wolverine: The Musical. You’re welcome.
May 30th, hurry up.
What a gorgeous, sad, amazing book.
Helen Oyeyemi has twisted the Grimmest version of Snow White – emphasis on twisted.
The story takes place in America, in the time of segregation in the south, Vietnam, the civil rights movement. When Boy Novak, a nordic blonde (fairest of them all) with a troubled past leaves New York behind for small town life, she meets and marries a local widower, becoming stepmother to his daughter, Snow. It is only when Boy gives birth to her own daughter, Bird, who is born with brown skin, that she (and the rest of the town) discover that the Whitman family are light-skinned African Americans, who have been passing for white, and the prejudice and turmoil barely concealed beneath the surface of the town and family come to light.
Oyeyemi plays with appearance, perception, and prejudice through the whole story, and does a masterful job of it. Although the story is dark, it is ultimately hopeful, and definitely worth reading. I highly recommend this fantastic piece of writing. Read it when you have some quiet time, so that you can really focus on the beauty of the writing, and the absorbing plot. Give yourself time to contemplate the concepts. I am itching to find someone else who has read this so we can discuss it – it would be a perfect book club pick. The themes of appearance, beauty, perception are very much in tune with so much of what is happening in the world today. I loved this.
Happy (introspective) reading.
Filed under Books, Review