April 1, 2019 by TinyNavajo
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
♦ ♦ ♦ ◊ ◊
*Published October 3, 2017*
This was an interesting book. It was on the book river my library does for their catalogues, specifically for Black History month, and the title and cover was what caught my attention.
Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.
Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.
When the autopsy of Matilda‘s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.
I think what was most interesting, for me, about this book was how gender and sexuality was discussed and implemented within the narrative as well as slavery as based in the antebellum South. Now, I am not black, neither am I LGBTQA. I don’t know how accurate this is to the experiences described in the book, but the descriptions did bring forth emotions I don’t normally experience while reading books: uneasiness, shame, anger, disbelief. I do experience these emotions during some books, but not always in the same book.
Throughout this book, we see the majority of happenings through Aster’s eyes, I believe a non-binary female (please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not totally sure myself yet). She is also autistic, I think. Again, please correct me if I’m wrong. Through Aster’s eyes, we see a lot of pain and frustration and hatred in the lower levels of the Matilda and we see that Aster both want to fix it and not care. But when her friend Giselle tells her that her dead mother is trying to talk to her through her old notes. Aster’s mother left Aster about 20 years ago, and did not come back.
As Aster strives to figure out what her mother is trying to tell her and the Matilda starts to break, everything starts to come to a head as Aster follows the ghosts of her past that will hopefully propel her into a future that will not result in a slow and painful death as a sharecropper aboard the Matilda.
What do you do when a book makes you feel things you do not normally feel? Do you applaud the book or curse it? Comment below and let me know!