Discomfort should be examined, and I find books where well-meaning people go too far in “helping” incredibly uncomfortable, I’m sure due to my anxiety and desire to help wherever possible. I would sincerely hope that I’m not Alix, the white woman employing our protagonist Emira as a nanny to her child, and would never presume that I know better than another adult what is best for her, or Kelley, the boyfriend who does the same from another angle. But this book was uncomfortable to read in part because neither Kelley nor Alix start off being as dismissive. You know what they say about the road to hell and all, so it’s hard for me to think about the darker paths my good intentions could take, especially as both Kelley and Alix are appalled by the overt racism that opens the book.
Emira comes from a party for emergency care of Briar, Alix’s daughter, and takes her to a bougie supermarket where she is questioned for not being what the patrons expect a nanny to look like. A bystander takes video of the event, which Emira wants to put behind her immediately, but both Alix and the bystander (Kelley, who ends up dating Emira) both somehow think that they have a better idea of how a black woman should deal with racism despite being white.
The book does a good job of showing how racism hurts everyone (if not equally) in the collateral damage of Briar’s relationship with Emira needing to come to an end due to her mother’s actions. And boy does this review make the book sound dark and depressing, but it’s a breezy read and quite funny, it’s just got some heavy themes for a book this enjoyable to read.