Goodreads: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
Publisher: One World
Publication Date: 26 March 2019
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
“Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”
Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.
“How brown is too brown?”
“Can Indians be racist?”
“What does real love between really different people look like?”
Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.
This is such an important and relevant read for everything that’s happening in today’s society. Perhaps despite the more globalised world we live in, society has become even more fractured and I think one of the greatest examples can be seen with what’s happened and is happening in America (or at least, it’s what I’m constantly bombarded with on my social platforms. I thought Mira Jacob did a great job exploring the experience of immigrants and what it means to be a POC in America in this wonderfully told memoir through (often) tough but heartfelt conversations with her son, friends, and family. Although I’m not a POC living in America, I was still able to relate to some of the experiences that she shared because I did live in the Western hemisphere for several years and I think these experiences are something all POC go through, even if not to the same extreme. That said, I found it a very educational and eye-opening read.
Good Talk is presented in mixed media format and it was so different to the graphic novels that I’m used to reading. While I really enjoyed it, especially looking at the photographs the characters were superimposed on, I thought that in a way it also detracted from feeling the full emotion being shared. Each character was pretty much drawn only once, looking straight out at the reader, and they always had fairly neutral expressions on their faces. I appreciate how much time and work that took, and how much more time/work it would take to draw the characters with different expressions, I think it would’ve added more depth to the story. That said, there were certain parts of the story, particularly about 9/11, that were incredibly emotionally hard-hitting and I got full body chills at those parts; a few tears even made an appearance! The format certainly made it an easy and speedy read and once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down until well past my bedtime and I read the final page.
What I related to the most were the earlier parts of the story when Mira reflected on her upbringing as an Indian-American/South Asian-American. Her exploration of arranged marriages vs love marriage vs American marriages (or as I saw it “Western marriages”) and the expectations from her (extended) family, the balancing of her Indian culture with the American culture she grew up in, and her struggle to have her very Indian parents understand her, was something that I recognise from my own experiences. It’s always somewhat comforting to know that you’re not alone in what you went through, despite feeling very much alone while actually going through those experiences.
Overall, I thought this was a great thought-provoking book that I think everyone should read, and I know that it’s one I’ll come back to read again as I’ll only get a greater understanding of the very important and relevant issues that Mira Jacobs shares in her memoir.
Have you read Good Talk or is it on your TBR?