Friday, May 22, 2020

SLAY by Brittney Morris

I adored this book.

She found her way to my shelf almost by accident. I was thinking about what to bring to The Hurston and Hughes Literary Circle for the summer of 2020. It was at the beginning of the school year and I was out shopping, picked up this book somewhere, may have even been in my travels. I was drawn by the strong art on the cover and did a quick glimpse at the back cover to be sure it was a Black female author. Criteria met for the reading circle. Then, she sat on my TBR pile because the start of the school year was a busy one for me.

She found her way to me again. It was my daughter's 16th birthday and I was trying to find the perfect book for her. I always give books on birthdays, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. This time, It was purchased on a trip and it was signed by the author, perfect gift for my girl who is beyond brilliant.  Initially she commented, "Mom, you know we have a copy of this right?" I said, "Yes, but not signed."

I'm so glad I gifted myself the week to read this book that centers a Black high school girl in a nuanced and powerful story.  There is nothing typical about SLAY, if there were even such a thing as a typical Black teen story. If there is even such a thing as the "typical Black teen story." Brittany Morris has given us a gift in a protagonist who is as contemporary as Slack and TikTok and as timeless as adolescents forging an identity separate from what they think are their parents expectations.

The protagonist, Kiera, lives in Bellevue, Washington. Not a very populous state for African American teens.  She is a senior in high school and has a little sister. It almost mirrored my family dynamic. I settled in for a delight. She is in a life place that was not unlike my older daughter when she was 17 and trying to figure out colleges. Was the place she thought of all these years the place she really wanted to attend? What did she want? And what pressures did she feel being a superior minority in her high school? How exhausting was it to be the encyclopedia of Blackness? Kiera, like my daughter, wanted an escape from that pressure and like my daughter, was primarily considering a place where she could just be herself.

This book covers issues of identity, who is Black and Black enough, if there is one way to be Black or not in a country that often considered being African American a problem to be eradicated. It is a book of discovery of oneself and what one really ones out of life and yes, it is a book about a video game developer who finds more truth than she imagined.

Brittney Morris gives us a beautiful story of self-discovery and a glimpse of what the next generation of young Black adults can be if they embrace the possibility that all of us can be excellent, that there isn't one way to be Black, and that the talents are endless.

I highly recommend this book.

Follow the author on Twitter @BrittneyMMorris.

Follow me on Twitter @lattegriot

I am Taye´ Foster Bradshaw and my girls SLAY all day!

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