Welcome back to another Friday blog! By now, if you’ve been following, you’re probably guessing that I am doing my part to ensure there is a blog post here EVERY Friday. B**** you guessed it! You was right. B*****, you guessed it! Grah-Grah! Sorry, I got into my OG Maco Moment. I’m coming back out. Anyway, the point is that every Friday, for the year there will be a new blog post. And because I am a fairly avid reader, on the 3rd Friday of the month, there will be a book review. Now, it won’t all be fiction, but it will all be reviewed from my perspective as a sex(uality) educator and therapist.
The first book we are reviewing is The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Here is the synopsis as borrowed from her website, feel free to click the synopsis to head on over to her site, if you think I don’t have the copy and paste functions down BTW: Don’t be judging me for borrowing! You ain’t think I was gonna summarize something that was already summarized, did you?:
“Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.”
Of all the things I liked about this book, that Holly Black made sure that not all of the characters were entirely likeable, not even the narrator, was probably the best part. Sometimes, in the pursuit of making a character unlikeable, some authors give unredeemable characteristics, but with this, it wasn’t the case. Same goes for the ones who seem likable. They can be so one dimensional and boring. Holly Black found and walked a steady line between “I like you, but you’re sorta f*cked up!"
This is only the first book in a trilogy. If I had known that, I probably would have waited until she was done. I hate waiting a whole year between books. I know, patience is a virtue, but it’s a bit much.
Now, It may not seem like it from the book synopsis, but this book speaks a lot to sexuality and to mental health in general. Without spoiling it too much for you, if you should choose to read it: Sexuality wise it talks about unwanted physical attraction, wanting to fit in, and basically asks the question of “How far will you go to get what you THINK you want?” These are important questions because people are asking or acting out these questions on a daily basis.
Think about it this way, Black people were stolen into a world that is not their own, then raised up in this world where the ONLY way to be considered beautiful is to be White. To have white skin, straight hair--long & blonde, light eyes, a slim figure, and the white person's disposition. With these attributes you are allowed upward financial and social mobility. You are allowed to traverse groups and be accepted as one of their own. Now, how many Black folk do you know are able to successfully traverse those lines? EXACTLY! Those who are white passing, can get a pass, because some White folk won’t even recognize that the person is Black. People with a lighter skin tone and a kink free hair texture may be able to reap some benefits as well. Don’t argue with me. There are studies that show that Black people who have more Eurocentric features have more social upward mobility AND are able to gain financial security BECAUSE some white people see them as more capable to doing work, more trustworthy, and essentially, more like them.
To reiterate the question: How far will you go to get what you THINK you want?
There are plenty of people who still employ the brown paper bag test, as a requisite for entry into their lives. There are still people who still look for those with “good” hair as possible partners because they don’t want to have a child who is dark with kinky hair. The sales of bleaching creams across the world should tell you something about how far people will go. You could even stick the use of relaxers in the category. Some people will only go one step, but others are willing to go all out! And that bring us back to the book at hand.
The question is: How far is Jude willing to go to be accepted into this new place she was stolen away to live?
The Answer: I guess you will know if you choose to read the book. No need to purchase, your local library is waiting for you to go in there and check out a book. :D
Mental Health Lesson Learned
When you meet someone and they are mean, or cruel, or nasty, or nice, lovely, trustworthy, etc. you basically start with that one piece of information. You have no background. However, there is always more information! We tend to practice some level of moral relativism for ourselves. We think about our individual circumstances and what led us to where we are and why. We forgive ourselves based on this knowledge and try to move forward accordingly. What we often forget is that the same is true of other people. They don’t spring into being and make decisions right there completely untouched by other forces. I won’t spoil anything from the book, but one of the main characters, Cardon is cruel beyond measure. You get to a point where you dislike him based on the one perspective you get. BUT then you learn a little bit more about him, you start to fill him out as more than a one-dimensional character. The Same goes for the other characters. You will think are nice, you learn more about them, and your opinion might change. It’s like what Shrek said “Ogres are like onions.” Well, so are people. We have many layers. The top layer is what we show based on the layers inside.
The point is that no matter how likeable you want to seem or how others may seem, you don’t actually know their full story. You are privy to a small snapshot of their lives and think you know it all. This goes for the person who cuts you off on the road, or who is mean to you in the office. There is a story there. When you are the butthead, you know your story and may give yourself some grace. How could things be if we all remembered that people have stories, and decide to give them some grace, too?
The verdict: I recommend reading this book. I'd love to have a discussion about it :)