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Noughts and Crosses

by Malorie Blackman. Published by Corgi Books.

Can you get black plasters? Not in my local Sainsburys, but I wondered if you can in London maybe? Interesting that though, isn’t it?

Wow! What a book! It’s certainly one of those ones that leaves an impession on you. You may have heard about it as its had a bit of publicity, but if you haven’t: it’s about a society where black people are the leaders and white people are the inferior race. The book swaps around from the perspective of a white boy, Callum; and a black girl, Sephy and follows their relationship through several years of political difficulties.

I won’t even begin to tell you about the plot as it’s quite a long book and covers several racial issues. To be honest, the first half of the book dragged a bit for me and all the race stuff was starting to get boring. I suppose it was necessary to set up the rest of the book, and the trilogy, so there you go. But then you hit half way through the book and all of a sudden the pace picks up and I couldn’t book the book down.

It’s quite heavy, and felt like an adult book with teenage characters. There are several shocking and disturbing moments in the story, but the plot is worked out so well it all seems natural and necessary. The detail makes it seem very real and lasting images were left in my mind. The ending was a total shock and left me reeling for days!

I have to say I am sometimes guilty of getting cross with black people for making their colour an issue when I’ve seen no reason for it to be. (BTW as there are no pictures of me on this website, I should point out here that I am white). In my lifetime in my personal surroundings I have never once seen racism and I think it’s rare for it to happen amongst my generation and younger. However, this book made me think what it would feel like if my grandparents or even my parents were treated in the way white people were in the book. I’d never really considered before what it would be like if the races were reversed and white people had that background and had to fight all the way to be treated with respect and equality. It’s a book that certainly makes you think; but it never once feels like it’s written by someone with an axe to grind.

I think this is such a brilliantly well written book. The characters; the situation and everything about it is believable. I certainly recommend it.

Additional note written April 2008: I’ve just had a quick scan through some of my past reviews and saw this one. Although when I wrote it 2 years ago I said I’d never been directly aware of any racism, I’m sad to have to update this now to say it is well and truly alive. I’ve just discovered that someone I know and a couple of others in his family are racist; to the point where the unhappiness of his daughter is more important to him than ‘allowing’ her (even though she’s an adult) to date a black South-African. Utterly disgusting. I think I’ll send them this book.

Books, Entertainment,
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