Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (July 14, 2015)
Amazon Book Description: “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Meclearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
Reading Sara Review: This book is not perfect, but it is important.
If you have followed Coates writing in The Atlantic, you will already know that this book is beautifully written. His writing has a voice and is captivating in ways that compel you to engage.
This book is a letter to his son, a young black boy growing up in the United States. When I finished this book, I immediately felt like I, a white girl from the Midwest, cannot possibly write a review about this book. I honestly did not feel that I had the right to. And after sleeping on it, I feel that there are some things to say – but this review will not be as long as my others. Instead, I simply recommend that you read this book. Toni Morrison said that this is required reading, and I took her word for it and suggest that you do the same.
The timeliness of this book is important. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Sandra Bland are names seared into our memories and thoughts – and unfortunately, I do not think that they will be the last names we learn, and they certainly are not the first. They are just a few of the thousands. There is a problem in our country when people do not feel safe or protected.
If we grow up with privilege and live in an unfair world, whether unfair by race or class, what can we do to help others?
I felt many things while reading this book – guilt, inspiration, defeat, frustration – but what was missing for me was hope. What can we do to help? How can Dreamers help others? I highlighted more passages when reading this than I had since graduate school. I feel that this is a book I will refer back to as we continue to deal with these huge and important issues. I am sure you will feel the same.