If the names Christian Cooper, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade or Ahmaud Arbery mean something to you, then read this book.
If the names meant nothing, rang no bells, and you had to Google them to learn their stories ... then read this book.
Therese Anne Fowler's book, 'A Good Neighbourhood', puts racism, class, privilege and hate under the microscope and forces the reader to confront the stark reality of being black in a world of white privilege.
Fowler herself calls her writing in this book "storytelling as activism" and it really is.
If you want to understand how dangerous it can be right now in the USA to be simply young and a person of colour, then read this book.
Follow Xavier, a bi-racial teen who's incredible talent and intelligence fade to nothing when he comes up against a white, angry male neighbour. Read his story and get angry. It may be fiction but it is steeped in the sad truth of the lives of many people of colour right now.
The narrative style used in this book makes it particularly readable - in the style perhaps of the popular television show 'Desperate Housewives', it uses an omniscient voice to tell the tale.
This style of commentary is almost like a Greek chorus - it warns the reader from the start that there will be no happy ending in this tale, this is a tragedy more than it is a love story after all. The events which unfold in the book are pre-ordained - not just by the author, but by society itself perhaps.
The use of "we" by this anonymous narrator draws us, as the reader, into the tragedy as more than just observers. We are silent witnesses but also, dare I suggest, participants ourselves.
"We" might not live on this particular street, alongside the wealthy yet obnoxious Brad Whitman and earnest, black single mother and widow Valerie, but we daily witness the ways in which the Brads of this world stamp on the Valeries and Xaviers.
As the story unfolds, and the inequities are exposed "we" are forced to confront our own privilege as we read about Xavier's lack of it.
The unstated question in the book perhaps is - do we just watch on from the sidelines as the narrator does in this tale, or do we act and try to make a change?
This is not, in any way, a light read. But why should it be one? It is instead an insightful, thoughtful examination of race and class in today's society, and as such, it is a must-read right now.
This regular column showcases some of the books available to borrow from the Stratford or South Taranaki book catalogues. The books are chosen by our editorial team.
As well as borrowing books from the Stratford Library, Stratford library card holders can also borrow books from the South Taranaki book catalogue at no extra cost.
This shared service is very popular, with over 300 books moving between the libraries each week. Library users can reserve books online regardless of which library they belong to and can also return issued books to the Stratford Library or any of the seven South Taranaki libraries.
Reserving items is free. Library members are notified by email or a phone call when reserved items are ready to collect.
All of the books reviewed in this column are available to borrow through the library system.