Thursday, September 09, 2021

Reader's Diary #2234- Jael Richardson: Gutter Child

For the first half of Jael Richardson's Gutter Child, I couldn't help but think of it as a young adult novel. I suppose some of this could be attributed to it being a coming of age story; not that all coming-of-age stories are necessary aimed at teen readers but when the protagonist (Elimina) is of that age group herself, it lends itself easily to such classification. More than that, it wasn't exactly subtle in its messages. Set in a fictional world where darker skinned individuals are from the Gutter and are forced into schools on the Mainland to pay off historical "debts," the parallels to real life residential schools and to the mistreatment of Black people in North America are pretty on the nose. 

This isn't a criticism per se. There's a case to be made that subtlety is overrated. However, it felt more like an adult novel in the latter half of the book when Elimina has had her baby. The book is focused more on the complexities of interpersonal relationships, while still not losing sight of the societal critique at the heart of the novel. In a way, the novel itself comes of age at this point.

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