On beauty by Zadie Smith

They are the damned and so their sadness is perfect, delicate as an egg placed in your palm. Hard, it is decorated with their face.

I was apprehensive coming into this book purely because of the size of it! After reading heavy books quite recently, I wanted something which I could not only get lost in, but complete it relatively quickly.

I’m still finding my feet when it comes to reading and find myself in stages. Sometimes I’ll be in the zone and can read a lot. Other times, I want to put the book down as quickly as I picked it up.

After completing Peter Fryer’s Staying Power, my pops gave me On beauty. I had seen it on his book shelf and didn’t want to read it due my literally judging a book by its cover!

I didn’t know what to expect, but by the flowery pattern, I immediately decided that it wasn’t for me. For those who have read it, I would say that my attitude going into this book is the same as Levi, the youngest son of the Belsey family.

The book is centered around a black family and a bi-racial family. Which is a key point because one of the many layers in the book which is covered are the many nuances of being in a inter-racial relationship.

The book is centered around a black family and a bi-racial family

Inter-racial relationships

The first family of the book are the Belsey’s. Headed by Howard, a white Englishman who has moved to America from England. Howard is a professor at a prestigious American university. His African-American wife, Kiki, comes across as a larger than life woman. Her story is really interesting because although confident, she become very self-conscious as a black woman living in a mainly white space. 

The author purposely includes the somewhat micro-aggressive phrases which are normally directed at black women to highlight what black women have to put up with in their day to day lives.

They have three kids who each have their own personalities. I loved that although each of the children are very unique, they all share a lust for learning and each have strong personalities and convictions, just like their parents. 

The other family, the Kipps’ are led by Monty Kipps. He is a right-leaning black conservative and the author has done a great job in painting a picture of this character. He strikes me as a person who was recently involved in a report where the British government declared itself as not being institutionally racist.

The book gives insight to how they all navigate life with the added complexity of being a mixed raced family.

I was glad that I committed to reading this one. The complex storylines alongside the growing relationship I forged with each of the characters as their storyline progressed was something which kept me engaged throughout.

If a sequel came out, I would definitely pick it up. The book covers many themes such as family life, inter-racial relationships, social classes, identity, marriage, racism, growing up, and of course, beauty.

#OnBeauty #ZadieSmith #StayAdept #BlackMenRead #BlackAuthors #BookReview

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