One thing can be said for certain about this year, and that is that it has prompted all of us to have conversations and look internally about how we are treating society and what can change. In Charlot Kristensen’s What We Don’t Talk About (published by Avery Hill) those conversations are up front and center. Let’s get into it.
Farai is a black woman who is about to get the opportunity to meet her Caucasian partner Adam’s parents after 2 years of dating and though she was late for the train and he seems on edge she has high hopes. However, once she meets them she learns that they contain bigotry towards those that are different than them, and what starts as discomfort from the parents becomes absolute vitriol. When the time comes and Farai decides to confront them about how offensive and disrespectful their ignorance is, she’s not so sure that Adam will have her back. Instead, he seems to somehow not believe these accusations, trying to normalize the inappropriate behavior because it’s his parents (gaslighting 101). The language in this book can be harsh and the confrontations are uncomfortable but necessary, and though Charlot wraps the whole story up in one volume the important questions, talking points, and [hopefully] perspective remain.
Charlot’s art is jaw dropping. Every character has an animated quality to them not only in her style but in their movements. In my opinion the way she draws the expressions, especially those of Farai, is spot on and the intention is always clear, almost as if the illustration has drawn in empathy. Background and set decorations vary from being one color denoting an atmosphere to illustrated chateaus with charm and individuality, a characteristic that well juxtaposes the parents house with the caliber of resident within. Scenes are occasionally split up by short weather transitions that further the juxtaposition we are seeing not only in locale, but general tone.
What We Don’t Talk About is a hard read, and relatability is going to vary from reader to reader, but it can’t be denied that the behaviors shown in this book have to stop. Charlot’s book provides frame work for important conversations and change, which I hope people find in this title. This is a contemporary title that accessibly and clearly states and exhibits a consistent societal problem, and I hope folks read this and bring those prompts and questions with them after. You can pick up this title here!