BOOK REVIEW: We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin


Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Format: paperback
Genre:  AA Satire Fiction

Publisher: One World
323  pages
Buy:  Paperback | Audiobook 


You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before.” This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga’s clinic, where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their nose narrowed. A complete demelanization will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body—if you can afford it.

In this near-future Southern city plagued by fenced-in ghettos and police violence, more and more residents are turning to this experimental medical procedure. Like any father, our narrator just wants the best for his son, Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. The darker Nigel becomes, the more frightened his father feels. But how far will he go to protect his son? And will he destroy his family in the process?


This was my May read for Literati's Jesmyn Ward book club - 

This was an easy read but a tough read.  I was sucked in and couldn't stop reading because it was so uncomfortable and a little like watching a train wreck as it happens.  You want to stop it but you know its going to happen anyway and you just stand there with your jaw dropped.  While this is a very uncomfortable read it's also a great one.  Using satire Ruffin has created a world that magnifies racism and the effects of living in a world where you are constantly told you are less than, a criminal, or not worthy. 

BIPOC grovel, get low wage jobs, or change their appearance to appear more white in order to get ahead in this book.  Cops are praised for their profiling tactics and most BIPOC live in virtual fenced in ghettos. This book really made my skin crawl but it was powerful and hard to put down.  In the end its loving who we are, not allowing people to disrespect you.

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