Today at Nerdypoc we’re reviewing Just Like a Caucasian, a novel by Odera O’Gonuwe which deals with the current racial-political climate from the point of view of four minority teenagers.
What do an immigrant, a black agnostic, a Christian Arab, and una latina morea have in common?
As of 2017, in the United States, they are systematically oppressed. Rose Thompson has a camera and a dream to capture the stories of these marginalized teenagers to put together a documentary.
Just Like A Caucasian isn’t your average race book. It’s poignant and refreshing. Odera O’Gunuwe aptly discusses the real problems minorities face ad how they navigate these polarized waters.
My Review: I give this book four and half stars. I tore through this book under an hour. The writing is thought provoking and fantastic!
Just Like A Caucasian is The Hate U Give meets The Breakfast Club. It’s a short book, but equally powerful as THUG in its message. We have four narrators here, as seen through the lens of a young documentary maker, Rose who’s coming to terms with her own racial identity and the prejudices happening around her, the catalyst being a black student being shot to death on her college campus. The book has four primary narratives, each character coming from a diverse and marginalized background. There’s Mohammed, the black gay teen; Ndidi, a Nigerian teen who migrated to America when she was young; Michael, a Christian-Lebanese boy, and Bianca, a Latina teen. All four of them are chosen by Rose to take part in a documentary discussing the racial scenario in the USA from the point of view of some of the oppressed group. This book is brutally honest and pulls back no punches, even while dealing with the micro-aggression people of color may face within their own community, or versus another. It also frankly discusses the racial privilege or the advantage richer people of color may have over those who are poor.
Without spoilers, I’ll discuss some of the things the book deals with. Particularly, the racial identity is really well done and unflinching. Ndidi doesn’t consider herself African-American even though she was born in NY, which is a contrast to Mohammed who is not picky about his identity and doesn’t mind being called either black/African American. He’s also openly gay and accepting of his sexual identity. At one point, the point of reverse racism comes up, and this especially in real time events is done so organically and realistically that I was nodding the whole time. This is something all people of color have an encounter at least at one point of their life when white people accused them of being racists by calling out their so-called privilege. I will say this again. Diversity is not a trend and white people need to understand that people of color getting more chances and exposure doesn’t mean that somebody is taking away the platform away from you. Then there’s the taboo surrounding the Middle Eastern people. The main character Michael smashes all of it through some of his actions and my heart was crying the whole time because I related to him so much. The stereotypical nature in which brown people are treated in white-majority countries was beautiful shown along with the taboo surrounding the characteristics, especially the coarse, curly hair of brown/black women. People telling us that our hair is never going to grow out because it’s curly is something that I can relate personally. I learned so much about the black history in America by reading this book.
My only regret is that the book isn’t longer and we never get to see any of the characters grow or interacting outside of their video group much. I thank Odera O’Gonuwe for writing this book. If this doesn’t convince you to go read it, well, you’re missing out on a gem.
This is an honest review in exchange for an ebook copy of the novel provided by Delu Press.
Author: Antara Gupta Roy
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a med student tuned Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on Twitter and TikTok, both @MxKantEven, or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels.
From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.