If you read my 2019 reading goals post, you will know that one of my main focuses this year is to read books around race and immigration. When I started researching books on these topics that were to be released this year, The Atlas of Reds And Blues was one that caught my attention right away. Drawn from the author’s own experience, a quick read of the blurb put this book to the top of my 2019 TBR. I was kindly sent an eARC from Counterpoint and to say I devoured the book would be an understatement.
At just 224 pages, this book may be small, but it is extremely powerful. The book begins with our main protagonist, who we only ever know as Mother, lying bleeding in her driveway after being shot by a police officer whilst an unjustifiable raid takes place on her home. As she lays bleeding, with her life flashing before her eyes, she begins to reflect on her life and how she has wound up in the position she is in.
Our main character is the daughter of two Bengali immigrant parents. The USA is her home but throughout her life, she has experienced awful racism and prejudice. She has moved from the city to the wealthy Atlanta suburbs to raise her three daughters. Her husband is rarely around as he travels so much for work. She hopes her children have a different experience to her but sadly they are exposed to the same level of bullying and hostility she has experienced. Their mother fights to maintain her emotions through the first hand disgraceful, vile racism they have to encounter. I found this completely heartbreaking to think this still exists in today’s society.
When the police decide to raid her house, with no founded reason why, this is when she decides enough is enough and refuses not to stand her ground – which results in her being shot. Not only has she been mistreated by work colleagues, members of the community but now, she has experienced police brutality which angered me to the core.
This book has the most beautiful, poetic prose. Laskar is a poet which shines through in her lyrical writing. The book is fragmented, in very short snippets, which help piece together all of the experiences and events that have led up to the moment where The Mother lays in her driveway. It is like nothing I have read before – it is haunting, beautiful but incredibly heartbreaking.
One of the reasons why I wanted to read more books about race and immigration this year is for books exactly like this. I am so, very aware of the privileges I have as a white woman. Books like this make me shake my head in disbelief. I can’t imagine facing the constant justification of who I am, why I make the choices I do, have the hostility from colleagues and members of the community and finally, the law enforcement that are there to protect people – which sadly isn’t the case for minorities.
The book evoked so much emotion of me. I found myself getting tearful during parts, just because I was so astounded knowing that although this book is fiction, this behaviour exists and people do have to experience this daily. It took me a while to get into the book, purely just because of the writing style but once I was engrossed, I read it all in one sitting. A truly powerful book that I believe everyone should read this year. It is certainly a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
The Atlas of Red and Blues is out now. In the UK, it is only available in Kindle format but the hardcover will be released on the 6th of June 2019. A massive thank you to Counterpress for providing me with this Advance Reader Copy.
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