The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I so wanted to like this book. I appreciate and respect it, but it left me cold.
The enslavement of African Americans in the United States and the horrific ways in which they were treated is one of the two most heinous sins (alongside our treatment of Native Americans) in our national past. I have never been able to fathom how people could treat others as less than human over such a minor difference as skin color. And the fact that these slave owners viewed themselves as good and kind and “Christian” is one of the most appalling and ludicrous things I’ve ever heard. The systematic oppression and abuse of any subset of humanity, whether they are set apart by gender or religion or sexuality or something as simple as a different pigmentation, is so opposed to the teachings of Jesus that I am baffled by how anyone who considers themselves to be one of His followers can possibly rationalize it.
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The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 Lists.
Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m cheating… my Best Books of 2019 post is a little different from the rest of the Novel Notions team.
It’s felt like a bit of a strange reading year for me, with a lot of study, non-fiction, and comfort rereads. My number is sitting at 164 so far, with a whole load getting that very respectable 4 star rating. However, there have only been a small amount that have truly floored me, that have deserved the 4.5 or the big, shiny 5 star rating. These are the kind of books that stay in your memory forever, that you recommend EVERYWHERE and as often as possible. They’re the ones where it’s almost impossible to stop your eyes from flicking forward to see what’s coming next because you’re so excited to get there. When I made that feeling the criteria for my list, it made things immediately clear. I don’t have 20, I have 10. They were all published this year and I loved them all. I hope you consider giving them a go too…
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The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published: 1st August 2019 (Little, Brown Book Group)
‘Even in death the boys were trouble.’
The Nickel Boys opens with an unearthing of bones. In this physical evidence, held and photographed and catalogued, is an impossibility: denial. Cue shock and horror at this ‘revelation’, a ‘hidden’ past in the form of dead black boys.