February Book Reviews

Passing by Nella Larsen

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book was very thought provoking when it comes to the level of melanin and features we have. How some black people were able to pass for other or white and be racially ambiguous during a time of segregation. As a black woman, this gave me really mixed, thought provoking feelings.

Reading from Irene’s perspective of her frenemy, Clare, the book gives us a look into this world in between. Nella has us look into Irene, and how she navigated through her world as a black woman full and transparent. The life she lived was not as glamourous as she made it appear. She reconnected with a childhood friend, ironically in an all white section, and had to decide if she wanted a relationship or not. It seems she did. Irene had to also come to terms with Clare’s influence on her social life, her family life, her jealousy and her realization of her husbands affair with her friend. It is interesting that she also found a way to pass in the segregated world, but when her friend Clare did it, it was egregious. The ending is left open and I must say I love it. I highly recommend this read, if you are into historical fiction. It really makes me want to know more about the world of “passing”.

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Honor is a powerful book that will leave you with many feelings of empathy.

Smita, an Indian American journalist is asked a favor from another journalist friend to take over her story about a woman who was the victim of a tribal custom that was inhumane. The book will pul you in almost immediately. You have been warned. Thrity gives us a view from a Hindi – Indian perspective, as well as a perspective of how Muslim – Indians are treated. We are allowed to understand the views from modern India, and in villages. This story was deeply moving, and disturbing all at the same time. The scenes are worth reading through, and understanding what Honor or “Abru” means for Indians.
I was not expecting the twist about Smita, but the author Thrity was eloquent in unwrapping Smita’s past with India. Although unexpected for our main character Smita, this trip was both cleansing and full of love in spite of the anguish the characters witness and endure.