Wednesday, September 30, 2020

500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

You know I stan books about people of color or written by people of color, but did you know I also love books about small towns and villages, especially in the countrysides of England, Scotland or Ireland? I know, makes no sense, but it is what it is. I started binge reading Jenny Colgan books last year because almost all of her books are about women escaping from a big city who end up in those places, taking on new and unexpected adventures.When William Morrow Books offered me a copy of 500 Miles from You, I pounced on it because Jenny Colgan. Y'all ... Jenny Colgan *whispers* gave us a Black protagonist! 

Lissa is a nurse in London who witnesses a horrific incident and needs a break from the harsh realities of the city. Cormac is a nurse/paramedic in a small Scottish village. If you've read Colgan's The Bookshop on the Corner and The Bookshop on the Shore, this is the same village of Kirrinfief, so you'll see some familiar characters. Through a trading places kind of program, the two switch jobs and Lissa finds herself in Scotland and Cormac ends up in London. 

Early on, Colgan makes mention of Lissa's friend Kim-Ange's ethnicity in a casual kind of way. She doesn't go into details about her skin tone, which is my least favorite way for authors to describe characters, but a reference is made about her culture that lets readers know. Similarly, Lissa's race is never directly mentioned. Lissa's curly hair is mentioned often, but a lot of people have curly hair. My a-ha moment came when she references her Antiguan grandmother. Now it's possible to be a white Antiguan because colonization, duh, but Antigua is 97% Black plus someone makes a rude off color remark about Lissa being "different." Colgan just slid Lissa on into her book just for me. Ok, maybe not for me, but I appreciate her doing it and not making it weird bydescribing her as milk chocolate brown, etc. like so many authors do. More, please!

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