Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review - "Wingshooters" by Nina Revoyr

Nina Revoyr's book Wingshooters covers a lot of topics: child abandonment, small town communities, race relations, not quite fitting in, trying to find one's place in the world, doing the right thing, refusing to change even in the face of absolute necessity. It's short at about 250 pages and it reads quick, but it'll leave you with a lot to think about.

It's 1974 in Deerhorn, Wisconsin. Young Michelle, half American and half Japanese, has been left with her white grandparents after spending her first few years in Japan. She knows more Japanese than English and has to contend with being an obvious outsider in this small town that still seems to be fighting World War II. Soon an African-American couple moves in, and their race makes life in Deerhorn even more difficult. Suddenly prejudice becomes absolutely real, though very few people will admit it. Even Michelle's grandfather, who seemed to despise her Asian mother but who loves his granddaughter fiercely, is confronted with choices that he isn't prepared for.

This powerful book does not end with things neatly tied up, because life is not neat. Sometimes there are no happy resolutions, only lessons learned and ongoing survival. The story is straightforward enough, but the aftermath is shattering. Though the bulk of the action takes place over thirty years ago, it's still relevant to today as America continues to figure out how to step out of the ugly shadow of its history of poor race relations. Read this book if you like to be challenged in your thinking.

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