Book Girls’ Guide

    This is such a great consideration, Jaimette! And one that I think the answer is as complicated as the subject. It’s something we talk about fairly regularly, and for us, it usually comes down to a book-by-book decision. You’ve covered some of the concerns and questions we ask ourselves, but we also consider whether the book’s approach and author will reach readers who have not had the opportunity to really understand contemporary racism beyond sound bites on the news.

    Of course, the caveat is that we’re also analyzing this from our white perspective. And we probably get it wrong sometimes, but when we think about what we can do to help big picture, we land on meeting people where they are and finding resources that we think can open eyes and change hearts. So we see authors like Jodi who write well-researched books as a gateway, and then we hope reading continues into picking up first-hand accounts, followed by more pressure on publishers to provide more opportunities for diversity on everyone’s shelves.

    We love the idea of co-authors, like Marie Benedict did with Victoria Christopher Murray for The Personal Librarian.  And we should all be reading about racism from those who live it, not from just a white perspective.  But we also believe that sometimes bridges are needed, and for the white authors who feel compelled to write stories that can be the bridge, we think those stories should be read.

    However, we also think those bridge books shouldn’t be published at the expense of a contract to another author, which is actually how we approach it when we create lists. If there is one slot left on a book list, the edge is going to the author with first-hand experience about the region/culture/topic.  But in some cases like this, Jodi Picoult was going to get another book contract no matter what, so we celebrate that she uses her platform to acknowledge hard things.   We know you were commenting for your own reading, but we hope it was helpful hearing some of our thoughts from the Book Girls perspective as well.