Perhaps you know this about me already, but I'm half Native American. My mother is from the Tlingit tribe in Southeast Alaska. Before the divorce and before she moved out and away, Native American arts and crafts and that whole community was something she and I did together. When she became no longer a part of my life, I really felt a bit lost and like I was missing out on more than just my mother.
Growing up, I've always had that confusion about being mixed-race. I was never sure where I fit in, it seemed like everyone else viewed me in a way that I didn't see myself. And what I have always needed and wanted was to see more mixed race characters in the books that I was reading. I wanted to see myself in the books I loved. And I haven't come across very many.
After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel - I really wasn't sure what to make of After Obsession when it arrived for review. I hadn't heard of it before and the back cover seemed a little vague about what we're dealing with. It's actually about demon possession, and is quite good. It's written from a dual-perspective and what I found really kept me reading is the fact that one of the main characters, Alan, is half Native American. Just like me!
Hurrah! I found Alan's character to be really interesting as he embraces his Native American side and uses his knowledge and connection to his spiritual side in order to help and prevent his cousin's possession. I was really rooting for him throughout the entire book.
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott - And in this offering from one of my favourite YA authors, Elizabeth Scott, we have something very different. Eli isn't the main character, he's the love interest. And we don't get to see any of the story from his point of view, which is a shame.
I can't quite recall the details, but Eli is this beautiful black/Asian boy who our main character, Abby, meets in a hospital as she's waiting for her sister, Tess, to wake up from a coma. She feels like some outside help would benefit her sister and she convinces Eli to come sit with Tess and talk to her. I think a lot of the story is very far-fetched and that some of it just didn't work for me, but there were bits of Eli's story which showed how conflicted he is in the way that people percieve him based on his appearance.
But what I realised recently, is that N shares a similar confusion and a sense of 'where do I belong?' in his own way. His parents are both of Indian descent and immigrated to the UK more than 30 years ago, but N was born and raised here in England. As a second generation immigrant, I think he feels caught between cultures in the same way that I do being mixed-race. He has no personal ties to India at all, but at the same time doesn't feel properly British, as that is not how he is seen by other people. I think it's quite hard for both of us.
Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier - I seriously love this book. It's one of those books that I continually read and re-read because I can't get enough of it. And that's mostly because of how much I can relate to the characters and the situations covered in Born Confused. I love the main character, Dimple's insecurities about herself and her size. I love her struggles and conflict with her best friend and also her parents. And Karsh is a pretty great romantic lead!
But it's really her struggle with who she is as an American born Indian that had me captivated. She had this wonderful relationship with her grandfather that transcended language differences using photography which was just so sweet and lovely. But as Dimple's parents try to set her up with a 'suitable boy' Dimple comes to realise that this divide between old-school traditional values and her more modern upbringing in the United States will have to be addressed at some point.
Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta - Melina Marchetta is definitely one my favourite authors and Looking For Alibrandi was the first book of hers that I read. I was blown away by the characters and the story and the emotion that I felt whilst reading it. I really thought that this book was incredible and it made me desperate to read everything of Melina Marchetta's!
Josephine Alibrandi is a great character as she struggles with the old-fashioned traditions of her Italian family and that of growing up in modern Australia. She's finding it hard to manage the two at school and with her family and in her burgeoning new relationships. Fantastic book, I thought it really explored this feeling of being caught between cultures really well.
Have you come across any mixed race characters or characters who are caught between cultures lately? I'd love to hear your thoughts or recommendations!