Recent Reads: Bluebird Bluebird
Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke
I initially discovered this book when I caught the tail end of an interview on NPR with the author Attica Locke. Not only was she poised and her voice extremely calming, but her book also sounded immensely exciting, so I went home and ordered it immediately. Thanks to amazon prime it only took me a few days to get my hands on this book and dive into the story of Darren Matthews, an African American Texas Ranger who felt it was his duty to fight against the racial injustices that are sadly all too common. He is compelled to dig deeper into a case and town he isn’t welcome in when the body of a black man washes ashore, and a few days after, a white woman's body is found in the same area. Something isn’t right, and Mathews knows it, so he fearlessly investigates while fending off some not-such-fine people, white supremacists, and struggles with the locals of all races that he isn’t an enemy.
This book was fascinating, not for the eye-opening and horrifyingly enlightening spotlight of racial injustices in the south but because of the profoundly complicated life that the main character lives. Amidst a personal crisis, Darren soldiers on, only to get the shit kicked out of him even more. He continuously proves to be an intelligent and clever man, quick on his feet and balancing the knowledge of being street smart from growing up in a small southern-minded Texas town and book smart from his years of being a law student at a prestigious law school in Chicago. He embodies the best of both worlds being a forward-thinking, educated man with southern gentleman charm and values.
As a white woman who as only always lived on the west coast in forward-thinking communities, it is profoundly disturbing and upsetting. I know that while this book is a piece of fiction, it is not far from the truth especially after some of the southern state events that have taken place in the last few months. Attica Locke's writing evokes a complete sense of racial tension and segregation that is still all too common even in this modern day and age. There were moments where I had to remind myself that this is a contemporary setting and not a piece of historical fiction because of the ass-backward ways of thinking that I know still exist. This book is a way to awake to the fact that we are still living in a time where we have to fight a modern fascism regime so that we can do better for future generations.
The pace of the book is quick, and I devoured all 300 pages in about two days. It was almost impossible to put down, being that it felt like the story was hammering in a nail for thought that still is stuck with me. This is an excellent book for book clubs and discussions because it offers fodder for conversations of depth and gives the reader a chance to walk along with Darren Matthews and see the bigotry that many experience from a safe distance (being that it is a book and all).
Looking on Goodreads, I am not all surprised by the ⅘ star review average and will admit that I paid full price for this book, something I rarely do, and I have no regrets. After reading Bluebird Bluebird I have gone on to add more of Attica Locke's writing into my wishlist for future reading, and I highly recommend this for any reader of hers, old or new.