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Nonfiction Graphic Novel Review: The Talk by Darrin Bell

Title: The Talk

Author: Darrin Bell
Year published: 2023
Category: YA nonfiction (graphic novel)
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA

SummaryDarrin Bell was six years old when his mother told him he couldn’t have a realistic water gun. She said she feared for his safety, that police tend to think of little Black boys as older and less innocent than they really are.

Through evocative illustrations and sharp humor, Bell examines how The Talk shaped intimate and public moments from childhood to adulthood. While coming of age in Los Angeles―and finding a voice through cartooning―Bell becomes painfully aware of being regarded as dangerous by white teachers, neighbors, and police officers and thus of his mortality. Drawing attention to the brutal murders of African Americans and showcasing revealing insights and cartoons along the way, he brings us up to the moment of reckoning when people took to the streets protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And now Bell must decide whether he and his own six-year-old son are ready to have The Talk.

Review: I thought this graphic novel won the Pulitzer Prize, but it turns out the author won a Pulitzer for his editorial cartoons. I've heard really good things about this book so looked forward to reading it.

This graphic novel is good. It's important. It's timely. It's one well worth reading.

Bell covers a lot of ground, from his childhood playing with a water gun (yes, there is a run-in with the police), to bullying at school, to racism, to dating, to his cartooning (I had no idea he was so successful in the news media realm), and to the present as a father who has to have "the talk" with his own kids. This graphic novel shows one man's experience navigating being Black in America.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Nonfiction

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