I am a sensitive reader. I am not talking about crying, though I am a crier. When I read books I am acutely aware of the characters that resemble me, be it gender or race. I find myself looking out for them. Even more so when a female character is created by a man or a Black character is created by a non Black author. This year I read a mystery one of my co-workers loved, called A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn. Set in South Africa. Its 1952 and new apartheid laws are being enforced. I liked the main protagonist Emmanuel Cooper. My problem with the book was with how Davida, only Black South African female featured in the book was treated.
I didn't care for the way Davida, was a used and abused pawn for everyone including her father. Davida is also drawn as a weak character. When I told my co-worker why I didn't like A Beautiful Place to Die, she said it was small part of the story. Maybe my co-worker's right and I am simply being the overly sensitive reader that I am. Big or small I couldn't ignore my feelings for how this character was treated.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Little Bee is a young Nigerian refugee living in Britain. Sarah and her husband took their holiday at resort near Little Bee's village and something very bad happened. Somehow Little Bee finds herself living with Sarah. Both characters have been through and lost a lot but its Little Bee who ends up comforting Sarah most of all. That just made me so mad. I thought Little Bee, a young girl living in a detention center in another country deserved someone to lean on.
Off topic but, the beach scene for this book is talked up, so my expectations were high. When I finally read it I was underwhelmed. If a scene is going to be hyped up, the author better bring it. My first thought after reading the beach scene was dude, have you not read The Kite Runner.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larrson. This mystery series is an international bestseller but it there was way too much sexual violence against woman for me. There were three sadist in this one book. In Swedish the original title translates to Man Who Hate Women.
Off topic - with all the unnecessary graphic sexual violence, I thought this read more like an American mystery as opposed to a Swedish one. If you are looking for a good Swedish mystery try Before the Frost by Henning Manknell or The Martin Beck mysteries by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall. The Beck mysteries are very good. The first one Roseanna was written in 1965. The series was released a few years ago, and they've lost nothing with time.
I got the idea to do this post thanks to Paul Mooney's autobiography Black is the New White. It wasn't that well written to begin. Mooney continuously equates beauty with fair skin. When he refers to his female cousin as very light light and attractive. I was done. Its been awhile since I looked at the book, Mooney could've used one light, though I am 90% he used two. I am 100% sure very was used. When I stopped reading Black is the New White over one sentence, my first thought was I am a sensitive reader.
I will never apologize for this. I am open to hearing other points of views but who I am will always influence how I see a novel.
Are you a sensitive reader? Is so what books were you unable to enjoy?