Cover Design: Greg Heinimann
Book Depository: Hardback
Content Warnings: Racism
Emira Tucker is astounded when she is apprehended at a supermarket one night, accused of kidnapping the young child she is employed to babysit. Her employer, feminist blogger and professional letter writer Alix attempts to fix the situation, but are her supposedly well meaning actions for Emira, or to make herself feel better? The two characters’ wires are further crossed when Emira dates someone from her employer’s past, someone Alix would rather forget altogether.
The white saviour is a figure we have seen all across history in both real life and in films, literature and television – a problematic figure intent on rescuing people of colour from real or perceived struggle, an aspect of colonialism that still rears its ugly head in contemporary society. We witness both of the important white individuals in Emira’s life attempt to ‘save’ her from something that she doesn’t want or need to be saved from. Despite numerous requests to drop the incident in the supermarket, neither Alix nor Emira’s boyfriend Kelley adhere to her wishes, insisting that she deserves recompense.
If that wasn’t annoying enough, both Alix and Kelley appear to fetishise Emira based on the colour of her skin. Both vehemently deny that they are doing something wrong, each blaming the other for being racist and detrimental to Emira’s life, but in reality, they are both as bad as each other. Reid’s commentary on these issues is succinct, delivered in short, sharp punches. The book is effective and comprehensive with the deliverance of its message. However, I felt there was little nuance to the story – it felt in places like there was a list Reid was checking points off from whilst writing, which made the pacing feel somewhat off to me. This lowered my enjoyment of the book a little, and caused the whole experience to feel rushed.
A further complaint I have with the novel is the ending, which felt was disjointed from the story as a whole, and was out of character for the person involved, thus making me question whether it was done for convenience rather than anything else. Up to that point I felt the character development had been effective, but the ending absolutely didn’t make sense to me, especially when taking this development into consideration. Reid created these characters so expertly – we dislike Alix and Kelley, whilst rooting for the sweet relationship between Emira and Briar, whilst also wanting Emira to make her own way in the world. This made it feel like a betrayal for the ending to be so blasé and against what we had previously learned about the character.
Despite this being a three star read for me, I would still recommend that people read it, because it contains some important messages, and has some decent character development aside from the ending. It was quick and easy to power through in a couple of afternoons and I feel that you gain more from it than you put in which is always a comforting feeling.
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