Book Review: Blackanese Boy by Ramon Calhoun
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): BLACKANESE BOY, set primarily in San Francisco in the 1970s and early 1980s, follows the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, of Rafael Halifax, as he negotiates the complex dance of being mixed-race in a race conscious society. A coming of age novel, BLACKANESE BOY explores the issues and complexities, the pain and joy, of being both black and Japanese-American, for one American boy.
My Review: One of the best things about this book is how realistic the experience of being bi-racial is. Since the author is black and Japanese himself, certain experiences like being mistaken for a Mexican because of his skin tone and being stared at by other Japanese people rang sincere.
In addition, there are certain events that are universal for anyone who has a personality that doesn’t fit the stereotype of their skin color. For instance, some Asian people in the book expected Rafael to know everything about hip-hop because he was black.
Besides the experience of being bi-racial, the cultural setting of the book was very interesting. There are certain events like the atomic bomb scare and the birth of hip-hop culture that make the book seem like historical fiction rather than a typical coming-of-age story.
Also, the way the author included Japanese, black, Hispanic, Arabic, Muslim, and white people was a good way for the reader to experience different cultures and encounters through Rafael’s eyes.
Furthermore, the author did a good job showing that no group is exempt from being prejudiced or racist, even if they are your own ethnic group.
When it comes to the book’s flaws, the only one was the story’s ending. For a coming-of-age story, it was too ambiguous. By the end, it felt like Rafael got older, but not wiser.
Overall, the book was good, but Rafael’s character could have been developed better. However, I still recommend this book because any mixed race black person and any blasian (black and asian) person will relate to it.