FICTION
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
illus. by Mira Jacob. 368p. Random. Mar. 2019. Tr $30. ISBN 9780399589041.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarJacob's sophomore effort (after Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing) is a graphic memoir about race and family, set against the backdrop of the 2016 election and told through a series of conversations. At first, the book riffs off questions that Jacob's biracial six-year-old son, Z, asks. Some queries are simple: "Who is better, Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan?" Others reflect the child's internalization of messages from media and require more complex answers: "Is it bad to be brown?" Z's inquiries prompt memories that push Jacob to dig into her own childhood and behaviors through interactions with her immigrant parents and extended family in India. The author and her husband, Jed, talk about his white male privilege as a Jewish man and his family's conservative politics. Interactions with Jacob's friends allow her to process out loud some of the discussions described in previous scenes. The narrative spans generations, drawing parallels between Jacob and her son but also highlighting the lack of social progress. Aided by the skillful story structure, Jacob's no-holds-barred vulnerability compels reflection and empathy. The unique art style combines photographic backgrounds with illustrations of characters framed in white, like paper cutouts. Characters smartly break the fourth wall, looking directly at readers and inviting them into the narrative. Scenes of Jacob's past relationships with men and women depict nudity but nothing explicit.
VERDICT A powerful, multilayered exploration of racial identity development and complicated family dynamics. Timely and necessary.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.