Hey, y’all! It’s Lila and this week I decided to join in Diversity Spotlight Thursday! Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by a Aimal at Bookshelves And Paperbacks.The meme’s rules are simple; each week, you choose three diverse books that fall under a certain category of marginalization and you fit the books into three categories: 1) a diverse book you’ve read, 2) a diverse book which has already been released and which is on your TBR, and 3) a diverse book which has yet to be released and which is on your TBR. So let’s get to it!
This week, I chose a diversity category which is very close to my heart: multiracial main characters! This category means so much to me because I, myself, am multiracial and I love to see good portrayals of multiracial people in media. And let me tell ya: there ain’t many. While I have seen more books featuring multiracial protagonists lately, I’ve rarely seen #ownvoices stories written by actual multiracial people. I’ve also seen a lot of the “tragic mulatto” trope, a harmful trope which, in the words of Wikipedia, depicts ” an archetypical mixed-race person (a ‘mulatto’), who is assumed to be sad, or even suicidal, because they fail to completely fit in the ‘white world’ or the ‘black world’. As such, the ‘tragic mulatto’ is depicted as the victim of the society in society divided by race, where there is no place for one who is neither completely ‘black’ nor ‘white’.” For me, I view this trope as very harmful because instead of empowering multiracial people to accept all parts of who they are, it implies that we are simply fragments and percentages who will never fit in with anyone.
So this week, I wanted to focus on books that I a) know have gotten multiracial rep right or b) hope that they will get the multiracial rep right, based on what I know about the book and/or the author. So let’s jump right in!
Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Diverse Element: Multiracial (Korean/White) Main Character
#OwnVoices: Yes…And No. While Han is Korean herself, I do not believe that she is multiracial.
Goodreads Summary: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
Why I Loved It: Aside from possibly being the most adorable YA contemporary series to exist, the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy is also one that I think really gets multiracial life right. First off, the series doesn’t use the “tragic mulatto” trope. Lara-Jean, the main character, and her sisters never question who they are or where they belong, not once. Second off, Han never makes Lara-Jean and her sisters “choose a side.” Instead, Lara-Jean and her sister seamlessly integrates their Korean heritage and their White-American culture together, creating a unique blend tailored to them, accepting and nurturing all parts of their heritage. And finally, the series also perfectly exhibits how multiracial families integrate and honor the different parts of their heritage. The Song-Covey girls’ Korean mother died when Lara-Jean and her sisters were just children, so they now live with their White-American single father. Throughout the book, the girls’ father seamlessly integrates and honors the girls’ Korean heritage, without ever acting like it’s a big deal–because it’s not a big deal for them, it’s just normal. The girls’ father frequently takes them to visit their Korean side of the family, celebrates Korean holidays with the girls and their Korean side of the family, honors Korean traditions, and even makes (admittedly much too salty!) Korean food for the girls.
All of these things are normal, everyday aspects of being multiracial and living in a mixed race family. It’s the little details Han placed in the series with such care and respect that make the difference, taking the representation from average too superbly stellar, out-of-this-world amazing! If you want to learn what it’s like to be multiracial and to live in a mixed race household, then definitely add this series to your TBR!
Title: The Steep And Thorny Way
Author: Cat Winters
Diverse Element: Multiracial (Black/White) Main Character
Goodreads Summary: Scene: Oregon, 1923.
Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man
Hank Denney, her father—a ghost
Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother
Clyde Koning, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather
Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney
Members of the Ku Klux Klan
Townspeople of Elston, Oregon
Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?
Why This Book Has Me Excited: A historical novel that’s a Hamlet retelling and which features a multiracial protagonist? Hi, there! Sign me up, like, immediately, please and thank you! I don’t think I’ve seen/read many historical fiction novels that have a multiracial main character. I don’t usually go for historical fiction but I like the mystery/thriller and potential paranormal aspects that it sounds like this one has. I don’t have much to say on this one as I haven’t read it (yet) and haven’t heard much about it, but I’m eager to read it and to see how the representation pans out.
Title: Song of The Current
Author: Sarah Tolscer
Diverse Element: Multiracial (Black/White) Main Character
Goodreads Summary: Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.
Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.
From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.
Why This Book Has Me Excited: I was interested in this pirate fantasy before I knew it had a diverse element, but learning that the main character is multiracial (like me) has added a whole new layer of excitement. I’d made it five pages into the ARC and was already imagining the edits/graphics/aesthetics I could create, so I decided to check Tolscer’s Pinterest board for inspiration. I was giddy to find a ton of pictures of multiracial (Black/White) model Sabina Karlsson pinned and labeled “Caro” (which is the main character’s name in Song of the Current)! Just to check I decided to tweet Tolscer to confirm that Caro is mixed race and Tolscer confirmed it and added that she sincerely hoped she got the representation right.
I’m so, so, so excited to see a Black/White multiracial character and in a fantasy novel to boot! We have so little representation in fantasy unless it’s like “oh she’s half European-inspired elf and half European-inspired human–so fantasy multiracial, so diverse [despite the fact that the elves and the humans are both European inspired]!” *eye roll* But I digress. The point is that there’s a multiracial character (who looks like me! with the Black facial features, lighter skin tone, and big, curly hair!) and she’s in a fantasy novel written by an author who seems sincerely interested in getting the multiracial representation right! I have high hopes for this one!