Naughts & Crosses

There are books.

And then there are BOOKS. Usually, those kind get a lot of recognition–they get read in school, they get awards, or movies made out of them. Everyone reads them.

But sometimes, there are BOOKS that slip through unnoticed for one reason or another. Now, I’ve had Naughts & Crosses on my TBR for a long time. But, I wasn’t in a super hurry to pick it up. I thought it was just a thriller. That’s what it says on the cover. “A THRILLER” in capital red letters on a black and white background.

That is not what this book is. Not at all.

There are two classes in Malorie Blackman’s world:  Naughts and Crosses. Naughts are the poor, servant class–housemaids, garbagemen, waitresses. Crosses are the elite–government officials, high brass military, white collar businessmen. Society balances at the edge of a civil war not unlike the tension of today, combined with the segregation of the 60s.

Naughts & Crosses could not be any more apropos for today’s cultural environment. Until the characters were described otherwise, I was picturing Crosses as white, Naughts as black. Talk about checking my privilege. I am ashamed this is so deeply ingrained in me that it was my natural assumption without even thinking about it. But that is the exact point Blackman is trying to make here, right down to who is written in the history books.

Everyone should put this on their TBR. With everything going on with the coming election (cough, Donald Trump, cough), and with the struggles we are having between our people in this country, Malorie Blackman bridges that gap by reversing the mirror. There’s no hiding from white privilege as you’re reading this. It comes rushing up like acid reflux. Where are my Mrs. Paxton’s? Put this on your high school reading lists this year. Do it.

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