I am not Black. I am not from Detroit. I only have a couple siblings. I have never experienced the death of a parent or the foreclosure of a home. But I am a reader. And I’m recommending that everyone read The Turner House by Angela Flournoy.
If you are unfamiliar with this author or her debut title, you can spend some time familiarizing yourself here, here, here, or here. That’s what a lot of you will do, I’d be willing to bet, but the best advice I can give is to locate a copy of The Turner House and read it for yourself.
Once you do, you’ll find that the work is masterful. It handles complex, emotionally-heavy subject matter with grace and accessible import, empowering the reader to reconcile competing forces like obsession and denial, failure and progress, or sickness and health, among others.
You cannot read Flournoy’s work and miss these elements. They are anything but furtive. However, as you read, I’d encourage you to ask yourself what their roles in the novel might be. See if you can do this without centering yourself. Especially if you:
- Are not Black.
- Are not from Detroit.
- Have only a couple siblings — or maybe no siblings at all.
- Have never experienced the death of a parent or the foreclosure of a home.
- Have no idea what “centering yourself” means (if this is the case, do the work and look it up!).
To be absolutely clear, this work is important. It tells an important story — and I’m not just talking about the one bound by a couple hundred pages in Flournoy’s novel.
This work is important.
At least as important as you.
That’s as good a place to start as any.
North by North Carolinian
Full concept and content by Ryan Vale McGonigle.