Monday, February 23, 2009
Do You Expect More From Your Own Kind?
Somebody gave me a gift certificate to a certain giant bookstore for my birthday. So, on my birthday, I headed to said bookstore giddy with excitement. To have free money to spend on books, you couldn't make me any happier.
I ended up buying three books. A cookbook, a bargain, "How to Play Your Guitar" book (I still dream of being a street musician, but that's a story for another day.), and a novel by an author I'd never heard of, a Black British woman named, Dorothy Koomson.
The novel is called, Marshmallows for Breakfast and judging from the cutesy, pastel-heavy cover, I knew I was buying chick-lit, but it was the image on the cover that hooked me. The cover shows the backside of a woman and child holding hands. The woman is Black and the child is White. Goodie, I thought. Chick-lit with a multiracial cast. Something new. Characters that looked like me. A story-line with a twist! The cover also noted that Ms. Koomson is an "international best-selling author," so I thought that guaranteed a bit of quality. Boy was I wrong!
I don't want to make an enemy of Ms. Koomson. I might meet her one day. And she's probably a lovely human being, but this book was so bad I wanted to put it under the wheels of my car and roll over it several times. I'm not even going to waste this cyberpage to write why I thought it was so bad. But here's why I'm so annoyed. I REALLY WANTED TO LIKE IT. I gave it my all and read the whole damn book. I put my faith in Ms. Koomson that somehow the convoluted story line would eventually make sense. Why? Because she's Black. Is that wrong? Of course it is, but here's why I did it. I figure with the way the publishing industry pigeon holes Black authors, if you are a Black author and have managed to achieve international bestseller status -- especially in a category like mainstream chick-lit -- you must be really good. Plus, she's Black (I said that already, didn't I?) Don't you just expect more from your own kind? I just knew the book would touch on issues that matter to me: that Ms. Koomson would explore the subtle nuances between Black and White in romance and modern-day relationships. She'd slyly refer to hair issues and ashy skin. But no. And don't get me wrong, that's not why I give the book two big thumbs down. The omission of those details just made it worse.
Why do we expect more from our own kind? Do you do that? In what context? Are you constantly disappointed or have you learned to temper your expectations? Feel free to chime in.
And just because I know my opinion means nothing in the big scheme of things, please feel free to check out Ms. Koomson's website to read more about her and her books. And just to show that I can't really give up on her-- I still want to believe-- I may try to read another one of her books. Maybe Marshmallows for Breakfast just wasn't her best effort. Anybody out there a Dorothy Koomson fan? Please tell me why you love her.