By Tananarive Due
The Between is about Hilton, who was saved from drowning in the ocean by his old grandmother when he was a boy, who sacrificed her life for his. Thirty years later, Hilton feels that his borrowed time is running out. His wife, the only black judge in their county, has been receiving racist hate mail from a man she once prosecuted, and Hilton is plagued by nightmares – so vivid, they could almost be real… Dun dun dunnnnnn.
I really don’t know where or how I found this, because I don’t often read thrillers. I do enjoy them, but I rarely pick them out. But what luck, because this was bizarre and fascinating. The main thrust (hehe) of the book is split between these racist letters and threats his family is getting from their stalker, and the nightmares he can’t escape from. They’re both interesting. The latter more so, because it explores this interesting mythology of life and death and whether you can actually cheat it. It’s not a myth I often encounter either – outside from Supernatural anyway – so it was so unexpected in here. Then you have this racist terrorising a family, and how this can break you apart as easily as it could bring you together. It’s just quite layered, and unexpected. The thriller bit of the novel was done really well!
On the other hand, because he’s not sure what’s happening in his mind or life, he makes a very unreliable narrator, and those don’t tend to make for the closest connections to readers. Still worth a read though, just cause it was cool.
Also, and I repeat this point with Penance, the 36th book I read: for most of these books, I found them by looking out for books by women of colour. A side-effect of looking out for these specifically is getting a lot of stories about immigration, second-generation kids, the themes of homeland, racism; and because these lists are usually “best of”s and those lists are really dense with material, they also tend to be sad and almost epic. This wasn’t like that. Although racism was a key plot of this book, it never felt like it was because the black author wanted to focus on the issue; it was written in because white men react to black women in power. Nothing felt forced or contrived or too drawn from personal experience; it didn’t feel like it was trying to teach us or preach to us. It was a cool book about some myth and with a lot of thrill that happened to be by a black woman, and that was so refreshing.