Saturday, July 09, 2016

Book Review: Read Without Prejudice

Last month I was pottering around in the front room doing some tidying and sorting when suddenly there was a knock at the door. When I opened it there stood a courier, with a package for me - a black jiffy bag. I hadn't been expecting a delivery so from the get-go my curiosity was piqued, to say the least!

When I opened the package, I found a simple paperback book, its cover spartan, with simple black and white backgrounds and writing (above is the back of the book - the front is half white, half black). No author, no title. Just a hashtag and a message/invitation. To #readwithoutprejudice.  Now that I've read it I'm convinced I know who the author is - I've told Matthew my pick, as he doesn't really enjoy fiction, so I can enjoy the satisfaction of getting it right when there's a big reveal if I've backed the right horse, but without spoiling the guessing game for anyone else.

The book is told from three points of view. The three characters we walk alongside are Ruth, an experienced and talented nurse, who is black; Turk, a tightly-wound, violent and vehement white supremacist; and Kennedy, a hardworking public defender, who is white. Through these characters the author takes us on a journey exploring race, politics, and the thorny subject of privelege. It's an incredibly sad story, with some real violence and horror within it, but by offering three such different points the author is able to explore the issues from a variety of angles.

I was impressed by the author's willingness to allow the characters to have flaws and challenges - they are truly multifacted, deep characters. With a book like this it would be so easy to be facile and cast people into two-dimensional roles - hardworking nurse, good; white supremacist, bad; but by having us walk alongside the characters you get a real sense of them as people. Messy, messy people.

I enjoyed the pace and the drive of the story - it's a taut, well-plotted piece and there's very little faffing. Details come into view at speed and the book takes you with it. The author isn't afraid to leave with you with questions, worries or what ifs, either - even at the resolution point there are things we still can't know, or which are hard to make peace with.

I think this story is an important one, especially in these troubled times where racism again seems to be rearing its ugly head in a violent and overt way. As well as that, I found this book's examination of privelege, and the subversive kind of racism which exists in places like the US and the UK, thought-provoking. I think fiction always has a role in the conversation about such matters, and this book is an interesting voice to have involved. Well worth a read.

Thank you very much to Hodder for the review proof, which I received for free. All opinions my own, naturally.


  1. I love this idea. I saw a bookshelf full of books wrapped in brown paper and a description written on the front in Sydney and was so tempted to get one. I am definitely a person who judges a book by its cover so I would find it so hard to get past that!

    1. It was tricky, but now I've guessed who the author I'm glad I didn't know - I think it might have changed my reaction to the book!

  2. wow! this sounds like a great book and something I would love to read. Love that is doesn't have a title or author and the cover is just black and white. Will be looking out for this!

    1. I hope you enjoy it - it hasn't left me!

  3. I love the idea of this! I'm very much the sort of person who buys books with pretty covers so I think it'd be quite refreshing to get something plain!

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

    1. It was really interesting to see how I reacted to not having a cover to judge!

  4. Oh this is such a clever idea! It was one of the things I like the most about my old kindle, before I go the fire. It has no covers for books, just titles and bios. Great idea! H x

    1. I still have an old kindle and just what you mention is a favourite thing!

  5. Sounds like a really great read especially with the current happenings in the states.

    1. The timing struck me. So much need for healing and change!

  6. I am totally guilty of judging a book by its cover most of the time, but that said, this does sound fascinating x

    1. It's a really good read, especially in light of recent events.


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Hi, I'm Claire...

Hi, I'm Claire...

About Me

I believe in 80s pop, 90s teen movies, and proper thank you notes. I just like smiling...smiling's my favourite.

I write here about London, food, books & travel, and a lot more besides. I'm never happier than when having adventures, cooking for friends, or lost in a good book.

If you'd like to work together, or if you'd just like to say hello, my email is:

Please note that on occasion affiliate links may be used in this blog. All items received for review or paid posts will always be disclosed.


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