Review: Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Coates discusses the idea of race and the problems with society in essays and letters to his son, bringing up names such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown.


Why this book?: I’d heard about this book from one of my many English teachers. I knew our library had just gotten a copy, so while I was in there chatting with the librarians, I decided to snatch the copy, and get educated on race.

 

Honest and important

While a lot of what was said between these pages went over my head, I was still able to internalize their deeper meaning, and understand that Coates was saying. Coates’s choice to write about this topic that is so widely disputed (although it shouldn’t be) was a large risk, and I commend him for taking that one. Between the World and Me delves into what it was like for Coates to grow up in an unsafe neighborhood, repeatedly going back to his experiences there and how they later affected him.

I love that you could tell exactly when Coates needed to get something out, and explain everything in detail. Consistently, he went deep into the details of a certain event, while at other times he glides over times that didn’t matter or weren’t worth it to mention.

Dense writing

Coates’s writing was what really forced me to read this novel so slowly. It was nearly written like an essay, but then I realized that he just needed to get things down in a certain way. Writing this message in the form of letters to his son was a unique idea, one that I found interesting. He uses second person words, using ‘you’ and ‘we’ whenever directly trying to send a message so Samori, his son. It gave you the idea that he was also talking to you, giving you a more intimate feeling while reading.

The topics this novel focuses on is something everyone needs to read. While the writing isn’t for everyone, I firmly believe that this is a novel everyone needs to power through, to discuss and understand the message that Coates is sending.

Final Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall?

Coates has a large scape of knowledge, and I was blown away with the messages he was sending. He put these messages on race into clear, precise words that are directly being forced at you, skillfully educating his readers and his son.

Would I Recommend?

I think that this is a book that everyone needs to read. So, yes, of course. If you see it, pick it up, and get educated.


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Additional Information:

Published: July 14th, 2015

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Page Count: 152

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Synopsis: via Goodreads

In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the “Atlantic” writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people–a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens–those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color.

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