"It's devastatingly good on the reality of being a Brown, mixed girl (oh how I love those passages!), and what radical care can look like in environmental, political and bodily collapse - all of which are of course closely entangled."
We're nearing the end of our 2021 team-favourites round-up. Here's Jess looking back on three intensely moving, form-altering titles:
One of my early reads this year (and one of very few novels) was Julianne Pachico's second book 'The Anthill'. Its main character returns to Medellin in Colombia, having left when she was a child, to volunteer at an after-school community centre run by her childhood friend. Julianne has an extraordinary way of writing about the distance between adult and childhood selves, the distortions and soreness, using hints of horror to approach a history of civil war and trauma. As a half-Colombian who spent parts of my childhood there, for me this book was both very intense and illuminating, mirroring my own experience of both belonging to, and standing outside of, a country in turmoil.
'The Yellow House' by Sarah M. Broom was the second book we read for our Future Generations book group and although it came out in 2019 it has an undisputed place among my top three reads of this year. Broom inhabits the genre of the memoir the way her family did the titular house in East New Orleans, with tenderness and pride, surviving and adapting its collapsing structure - lifting it up through love. This is, among many things, a book fundamentally about climate justice, about how the vulnerability of home and community plays out, without ever using the actual term.
I only just got around to reading 'The Breaks' by Julietta Singh, although a fair few pals had recommended it. They were right; it floored me and my copy is now thick with dog ears. The book takes the form of a long letter written to the author's six-year-old daughter, about the world she's been born into and their communal learning and unlearning. It's devastatingly good on the reality of being a Brown, mixed girl (oh how I love those passages!), and what radical care can look like in environmental, political and bodily collapse - all of which are of course closely entangled. We've already chosen this as out next Future Generations book club book and it's one I will, without a doubt, return to, for inspirations and paths to what we may yet leave behind.