Book review for Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
(Henry Holt and Company, January 14, 2020)
This story is heart-wrenching and difficult, yet uplifting between those tough spots. The trials and tribulations endured are hard to read. I wanted to reach into the story and rescue the protagonist, who also is the writer, as this is inspired by the true life of author Echo Brown. I also wanted to lash out at the people who hurt her. At this time of racial pain and awakening in our country, the story is enlightening about the never-ending pain endured by black citizens, and especially black women. I could relate to the teen being unable to verbalize her inner thoughts and advocate for herself, leaving her vulnerable to misunderstandings, and at worst, predators, because I’ve, too, had those times when I couldn’t form the words I needed to speak out for myself.
The magical realism used to convey deep experience is entertaining but also insightful. Often when I read this style of book, I look for the explanations in reality for the magic, like “they are just hallucinating” or “it’s hyperbole,” but the magic is left to stand on its own. Echo is a wizard and does and sees real magic. It’s metaphorical, yes, but it’s more than that. This is a very spiritual story, with things happening deep within the souls of people and in the world. The use of magic and the “lessons of wizardry” give lessons for life and survival, even flourishing survival.
It’s graphic and violent, and wouldn’t be an appropriate read for some young readers, except that graphic violence sometimes happens to the young, and they need to know about victim shaming, violation, healing, and forgiveness.
White people, read it for new insight about culture that is perhaps unfamiliar. Learn from it, what the constant threat and consequences of systemic racism do to an entire race. Stick with it, allowing compassion and humility to blossom, and don’t let yourself fall back on old justifications, to excuse a blind eye, or even a defensive posture. We need to wake up to the deep, troubling, brutal circumstances that continually harm our fellow humanity.
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Life with Quadruplets
As a mother of quadruplets, I've had plenty of crazy experiences raising "supertwins." I blog a lot of memories about my kids. Sometimes just my thoughts on things. I get those sometimes—when my brain works. Which is about one third of the time.