Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

Random. Mar. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780399589041. $30. Rated: Teen+. memoir
This bold memoir opens with Jacob (The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing) struggling to answer her biracial son’s questions about Michael Jackson and his own racial identity before launching into a far-ranging exploration of her coming of age as the daughter of East Indian immigrants, and the role her race played in her romantic and professional life. In sixth grade, Jacob won an essay contest held by the Daughters of the American Revolution only to receive a chilly reception when members of the organization discovered that she wasn’t white. Discouraged by a string of unsatisfactory relationships in her early 20s, she considers acquiescing to her extended family’s desire that she enter an arranged marriage before meeting and falling in love with her future husband. Jacob presents her story primarily through dialog, illustrated in collages combining simple front-facing drawings of her characters laid over photographs. This technique proves wonderfully versatile, resulting in occasional deadpan hilarity and moments of absolute heartbreak, especially in chapters detailing the anxieties she and her family felt following the 2016 election.
VERDICT This brilliant record of Jacob’s attempt at navigating personal and political issues in modern America manages the feat of being provocative and entertaining in equal measure. Highly recommended for all collections.
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