My Lit Box sends out a newly released book by an author of color on a monthly basis. Subscribers can choose to receive just the book for $17.00 or the full box plan for $25.00 which includes one or two quality bookish items. I got the full box because I love items! You can see my previous My Lit Box reviews here.
The theme of March’s box was “balancing act.” The curator describes how balancing act fits by saying, “It’s becoming almost a requirement to be adept at switching it on at off. Being one person at home, another at work or school. Keeping your feelings and opinions bottled up because “they” won’t get it. Trying your hardest not to be too Black, too loud, too ghetto, too whatever it is that makes “them” uncomfortable. Performing this balancing act can push you to your breaking point. It’s hard.”
The book she chose for this theme is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. If you’ve got your eye on the pulse of young adult best sellers then you likely have heard the hype about this book. Believe it.
Starr is a teenage black girl who lives in a poverty-stricken predominately black neighborhood and attends school in an affluent, predominantly white neighborhood. This sounds similar to Piecing Me Together from last month’s Call Number box, but the differences begin relatively quickly in The Hate U Give. While Piecing Me Together focuses on the protagonist’s general attempt to figure out where she fits in, in The Hate U Give, Starr has to do so while dealing with an unthinkable situation: Witnessing her best friend being murdered by the police.
This is a quite timely book, unfortunately, and it’s extremely effective. This young man who was gunned down for no reason was a person with friends and family and goals. He was a real human being and this book makes the reader really feel that. It also runs right into those false narratives of “Well, I heard he was a drug dealer, soo…” as though a reasonable punishment for drug dealing is execution by the police.
As she deals not only with losing her best friend, she’s dealing with being the witness in a highly publicized case. At school, no one knows she’s the witness. No one knows she knows the boy who was killed. As the theme implies, she’s caught doing a balancing act, trying to do the right thing by her friend while also maintaining the two separate lives she’s been living.
This is a long book that gets into a ton of other issues and I think handles all of them successfully. I can’t recommend this book enough but do want to caution that, obviously, it is hard to read in some parts. I don’t think that should prevent a person from doing the hard work required of the reader of this book, but I do think it’s helpful for readers to be prepared.
Recommended for: All y’all
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: Yes / yes / yes / yes (firing on all cylinders, wahoo!)
Now, on to the bookish things!
The curator specified that she tried to add things to this box that help her deal with life in the world we currently live in. The first item was a two-pack of buttons, one that says, “RESIST” and another that says, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” The top of the paper they’re attached to includes a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” These are now safely affixed to the purse I use more often, along with a host of other pins I’ve received in bookish boxes.
Next up was a composition notebook from Out of Print with banned books on the front. I have a LOT of items with this design, including a coffee cup, two pairs of socks, and a purse, but I did not yet have a comp notebook so this was helpful.
Finally, the curator included something for a little self-care. In the email she sent explaining why each item was included, she included a quote from Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
The self-care item is an enormous lavender scented bath bomb. Unfortunately, we live in an old house with the tiniest bathtub in the world – and I am not a tiny person – so I can’t take baths. I know some folks involved in the struggle though who I’m sure could stand some R&R to help them keep up the good fight, so this will certainly find a good home.
As always, I loved this box. It has some of the best, most thoughtful curation of any book subscription box out there and I’ve been happy with the book every month. I can’t wait to see what she sends us next month for the theme “Letting Go.”