The Hate Race
Maxine Beneba Clarke
Category: A book by a person of colour
I bought Maxine’s poetry collection Nothing Here Needs Fixing several years ago at the Brisbane Writers Festival. I went to the Qld Poetry Festival this year pretty much just to see her, and while there I bought The Hate Race. It’s described as a memoir but it’s a specific memoir, and one I think is really important for white Australians to read. In particular, I recognised the Australia Maxine grew up in. We’re the same age, give or take a year, so her description of Australian schooling was vivid and transported me back to my own childhood. I, however, have no experience whatsoever of the racism Maxine experienced. What I guess is confronting to me is that it probably was happening in front of me, but I have no memory of it because it didn’t affect me. There’s a lot more that I want to say but mainly, just read it. 5 stars.
Category: A book set in two different time periods
I read this in one day. From the very first page I was immersed, compelled, didn’t want to put it down (though I made myself clean the house and unpack boxes and take a break when my eyes were tired). I also gave it to my 13yr old to read. It’s just bloody amazing. 5 stars.
Category: A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire, and I have wanted to read these books for a while. Hooray opportunity! Parasite tells the story of Sally Mitchell and also the story of SymboGen, the corporation that develops a genetically engineered tapeworm to cure humanity of the ills it created by sterilising its environment. I loved the premise of the story, and the characters were likeable (though according to Goodreads Sal is whiny and annoying, whatevs). I did feel that a certain key reveal was dragged on wayyy too long, as it was extremely obvious from very early on. There were also some points where I was pulled out of the world because it was just too unbelievable. I think part of my problem is I invariably compare stories like these with The Girl With All the Gifts, and that book is so complex and sophisticated and fantastic that it’s difficult to compete. That said, I really did enjoy it and will be seeking out the other books. 4 stars.
A Long Way Home
Category: A book that is becoming a movie in 2017
Autobiographical account of a man who was lost as a 5 year old in India, adopted by Australian parents and managed to find his Indian home 25 years later using Google Earth and Facebook. I wanted to see the movie but was pretty sure I’d end up bawling my eyes out, so figured I should read it instead. Saroo Brierley’s tale is told in a straightforward manner but astounding in its detail. I inhaled this book, having started it in the afternoon and finishing it that same night. 4.5 stars.
The Princess Diarist
Category: A book that is a story within a story
Oh my heart. All the complicated feels. This book is a bit erratic and stream-of-consciousness but completely real. Carrie’s voice is so recognisable and honest. The letters themselves need the context she provides, because they are every girl’s romantic heartbreak on a page. I had to laugh at some of them as I’m sure I’ve written similar in my youth. This book almost made me cry several times, and I feel again that deep sense of loss that she’s gone. I can’t rate this anything other than 5 stars.