A sensitive exploration of how casual racism can blight lives, this story introduces us to Monica, a mixed race woman married to a white man whose family have always made it clear they regard her as the cuckoo in the nest
Her mother-in-law Penny has made it clear she’s not good enough for her son, her husband’s uncle disparages her children for their colour and thinks he can act lasciviously towards her with impunity – after all, if she fights back, she’s just “angry black woman”, isn’t she?
But she’s put up with covert (and open) insults for too long and now it is time for her to fight back. A chance encounter with fellow parent, Joe, at the school gates, opens her eyes to the fact that she’s worth more, far more than prejudice she encounters and the lack of support she receives.
But to truly find her own identity, she must first make peace with her own mother, an immigrant from Trinidad married to a white man, whose own efforts to fit in to the British way of life and stay under the radar exposed Monica to racism right from the start.
Mistakes of the past
Can Monica transcend the prejudice she faces on a day-to-day basis, protect her own children from the mistakes of the past, and forgive husband Dan for too often putting his family’s feelings before hers?
She also has to forgive herself her own past mistakes – even though she is in danger of repeating them.
Monica may be wronged but she is no saint, thank goodness.
I thought this was a powerful and very moving story that helped me understand more clearly than any newspaper report just what people of colour have to put up with in a country that is not fully colour-blind.
Apart from the theme of racism, it’s also a gripping narrative of fractured family relationships, a marriage under stress and a woman who has subsumed her own identity in other’s needs – a familiar tale whether the woman is black, white or any other colour. Why should any of us have to compromise our happiness? I may never, thank God, have experienced the constant judgment Monica was subjected to, but I was rooting for her all the way!