A good book can take places you’ve never been.
A great book n only takes you to places you’ve never been, but has those places linger in your thoughts after the final page is turned.
In the past couple of months, I’ve read two books that have taken me outside my typical worldview and have lingered in my thoughts long after the final page was turned. The first was the much (deservedly so) lauded The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and the other, as unlikely as it may seem, was a new collection of Marvel’s Ms. Marvel comic book, Mecca.
Both stories feature strong female protagonists trying to make sense of the world they’re facing today in a coming of age story. Each novel challenges readers with some hot-button issues, all the while giving insights into the daily world of each of its characters.
Whether it’s Starr’s brother tensing up when a police car pulls up alongside them, expecting to be pulled over for simply “driving while black” or Kamela trying to make sense of why she and people like her are being vilified by the changing of leadership in her New Jersey community, both stories offer some fascinating and stark insights into the day to day life. The only good news for Kamela is that the new leadership in question is fronted by the supervillain organization, Hydra and is something that can be more easily overcome and defeated than the “no-win” scenario presented to Starr.
In Hate, Starr is attending a party, when shots ring out. Fleeing with her old friend, Khalil, the two are pulled over by a white police officer. The situation quickly gets out of hand, ending with the police officer shooting and killing her friend. Starr finds herself not only hurting at the loss of her friend but also the reaction of her friends, community and the world at large. The hardest part of Hate is that no matter how hard Starr tries to do the right thing, it appears the deck is stacked against her and the truth she’s witnessed. As Khalil is vilified in the media, Starr tries to set the record straight and see justice for him. Along the way, she sees the true colors of some of her friends and community.
Neither story pulls any punches in relating the stories of Kamela and Starr. And it’s this that stayed with me long after I finished reading each of these stories.