I know. Bit of a minority opinion. But this is coming from the person who thinks Ed Sheeran is dull and La La Land was shit. So yeah. I'm used to having people give me the side-eye.
So let's talk about the good things first. Because there were good things about this book (unlike La La Land).
- The message that if you have a voice, you have a moral obligation to bloody well use it to speak up about things that are wrong. Sometimes I think we live in a society where people are all too happy to point out when someone on the internet uses an apostrophe in the wrong place, but will cheerfully turn a blind eye to outrageous acts of social injustice. This is wrong.
- The book speak sout against police brutality and institutional racism, which is a discussion that is perenially relevant. There were parts ofthis book that just made me so angry on Starr's behalf and I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction.
- Really positive family dynamics - Starr and her family really loved each other and were super loyal and supportive of each other. Two parents who are both emotionally invested in their kids? Big tick.
And now ... the not so good.
- This book was about 300 pages too long. I heard the author on Simon Mayo's Book Club the other day and she said that this book was originally a short story. It should have stayed a short story. There was a lot of waffle and after a while it got boring. The first few chapters were amazeballs, but after that it petered out and it was a chore to finish.
- Characters are defined solely by the colour of their skin and the author deals in some pretty outrageous stereotypes. Apparently, all black people like one type of music and and all white people like a different type of music, which was news to me. And no, not all black people dance in exactly the same way and not all white people dance the same way. There was too much focus on what makes us different rather than what makes us the same.
- The boyfriend (forgotten his name already) is an utter drip. No idea why Starr was with him - they didn't really seem to have much in common and she seemed really uncomfortable with the fact that he was white.
- The writing was very powerful - which is good - but after 400+ pages it felt similar to being hit repeatedly round the head with a blunt object.
I can see why this is such a hyped book at the moment (and the cynic in me notes that it hasn't done badly in the aftermath of that godawful Pepsi advert) but for me it was sadly not a winner.